Aces of the Luftwaffe: Squadron – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Shoot ‘em Up
Developer: HandyGames
Publisher: HandyGames
Platforms: PC, PS4, XB1, Switch
Tested on: PC

Aces of the Luftwaffe: Squadron – Review

Site Score
4.9
Good: Fully voiced narrative, plenty of chaos, gigantic skill tree
Bad: No online multiplayer, negative traits of the pilots, unfair boss fights, no button remapping
User Score
9.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Imagine an alternative ending to World War II, one reminiscent of Pearl Harbor, where the Germans invaded the US coastal line with their blimps, UFOs and other extraordinary machinery. One last hoorah, one last push to dominate the world, and you must stop them with four wingmen. Now stop imagining that because Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron is exactly that.

Story

The storyline of Aces of the Luftwaffe: Squadron is as you would expect from an alternative WW II aftermath, although this time it is set in the USA and not on European soil. The end of the second World War is nearing and each day Europe is shedding the shackles. As a last hoorah, a secret German commando dubbed the Aces of the Luftwaffe set their iron sights on the USA, an unforeseen event as the commando stayed under the radar long enough to surprise the US armed forces. While the Germans rain terror on the US coasts and cities, it is your job as a squadron of four to stop the Germans from wrecking more havoc, saving as much innocent lives as you can whilst you come face-to-face with some of the most deranged scientists of the German forces.

Graphics

Visually the game is not amazing, but it certainly packs more than enough cartoonish graphical punch for an arcade-like shoot ‘em up. It’s vibrant and chaotic with plenty of effects happening at the same time, both from the enemies and your own squadron. It is nice that the background changes depending on which US area you’re trying to help. Honestly, sometimes there is too much going on for you to enjoy the visual effects.

Sound

One of the most surprising features is the fully voiced narrative. Each wingman and even the bosses have their own voices, fitting perfectly to their personalities, adding more insanity and diversity to the game. It also makes the shoot ‘em up more immersive as you can now focus on the actual gameplay instead of reading everything. There is not a lot of bad that can be said about the sound design. Each weapon and power-up has its own sound that gets muffled by the plethora of sounds coming out of the woodwork at the same time. It is hard to pin-point exact sounds because of the chaos though.

Gameplay

Aces of the Luftwaffe: Squadron is an action-packed vertically-scrolling shoot ‘em up that can be played with either the keyboard, the mouse or with a controller. This means it has a very versatile control scheme and you can choose the option that would suit you best, but the option for having three different playstyles pales due to the lack of remapping buttons.

That being said, the control scheme for the controller could’ve been mapped better. The directional pad or left stick are set to move around, which is common. It is the attack buttons that feel out of the ordinary. A is for confirming or shooting whilst B is used to cancel a move or to use the cloud dash skill. With X you can use an active skill and Y is left unused. To switch the selected skills, you’ll need to use the bumpers. We felt it would make more sense to use the triggers for shooting whilst the skills are mapped to the face buttons.

The gameplay itself is simple, simply follow the linear storyline, jump into the pre-made levels and start shooting anything that forms a threat to you and your comrades in the sky. Occasionally, enemies will drop medals, small or large ones, that need to be collected as these medals are the only way for your squadron to level up. This will unlock skill coins which you can use in the enormous skill tree each member has to unlock new skills. Each level has one main mission that you need to complete but there are several side missions that can be completed which will grant extra rewards. You can also change aircrafts, each bird having positive and negative traits.

Aside from collecting medals, you’ll also want to collect the supply crates as these contain ammunition, power-ups and turret upgrades. Although the weapon upgrades only last until you’ve run out of ammo, the Gatling Gun, Flame Shot, Electric Bullets and Laserbeam can really help in those though and surprisingly unfair boss battles. Really, who decided to create a train boss that travels through the entire area, leaving you with barely any space to survive?

These boss fights can be pretty boring, and they feel standard but there is one mechanic that really messes up the gameplay, namely the negative effects of each wingman. You’ll be playing as Mark Taylor, the leader of this unstable group, but an event in his past caused him to have poison in his body. Too much fast movement can make him suffer from the poison, rendering him unable to do much. Melissa Monroe on the other hand has Acrophobia, an extreme and irrational fear of heights, which made us wonder why on earth she became a pilot in the first place. When her fear flares up, she’ll leave the squadron. John King is a British veteran with a vast hatred for the Germans and everything they stand for, and thus, every once in a while, his anger flares up. When it does, it’s best to stay clear of his path of destruction. He may not leave the screen, but he will leave the tight formation. Finally, we have Steve Davis, a pilot who occasionally falls asleep. When he’s flying. In the air. It makes no sense at all and when he does doze off, you need to keep him alive by protecting him. While the negative effects are a new and fresh mechanic, they are also utterly annoying, and it wasn’t the nicest experience in a shoot ‘em up.

Aces of the Luftwaffe: Squadron can be played with up to four players, but it’s a couch co-op. An online multiplayer feature would have been a great addition to the game and would have added even more replayability to the game as the skill trees are huge.

Conclusion

Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron has both surprised us and annoyed us. On one hand it’s a fun casual game if you want to annihilate things with a good sound design and voiced narrative, but on the other hand the new mechanic of negative traits has been an unpleasant experience. It seems small, but the enormous skill tree would make you think otherwise, while on the other hand, the choice of aircrafts is slim. There is some replayability, especially if you want to unlock everything, but the lack of an online multiplayer mode decreases its replayability. In all honesty, Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron is a game we cannot make head nor tail of. It’s good, but at the same time it’s not and for that reason, we wouldn’t recommend it.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)
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Aces of the Luftwaffe: Squadron – Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Drydwen
Drydwen


Hi! I'm Jess and I’m a writer, dreamer and gamer at heart since the early ages. I primarily game on PC but occasionally also on PS4 and Xbox One. I have a tiny obsession for World of Warcraft and caterpillars but you may also claim I have a devoted passion for the gaming industry in general. If you want to hit me up, find me on twitter!

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