Heliborne – Review
Follow Genre: Indie, Dog fighting, shooter
Developer: JetCat Games
Publisher: Klabater
Platforms: PC
Tested on: PC

Heliborne – Review

Site Score
6.8
Good: Great soundtrack
Bad: Audio glitches
User Score
6.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Heliborne isn’t an entry in the ‘Bloodborne’ series, where you play as a helicopter pilot in victorian England taking down enemies with the power of your ever flailing propeller. Development started 2 years ago and the game has recently been released. A success when it comes to the Steam Greenlight path. The game isn’t all that known yet, as even the wiki is still in its infancy, so playing it now, is playing it blindly. You can’t rely on written guides to help you, but reading is what books are made for, not games. So gear up and start your engines, time to take the fight to the skies and rain death up from above.

Heliborne_Logo

Story

The story in Heliborne isn’t just a singular one. There are several, in all of them however you are a pilot of a flying vessel also known as a helicopter. There are scenarios ranging from way back in the 1950s all the way to the current day, so the vessels you’ll command aren’t all the same. Unlike the other war games, it’s not a very narrative driven game, at least not in a visual style. There’s the text telling you what’s going on and who to shoot or who to save, but that’s about it. There aren’t any cutscenes to depict the state of the country you are flying over. This makes it so the player has a hard time being engaged in the fights or the reason behind saving your men behind enemy lines. This might be because the singleplayer campaigns are mostly there for teaching you the basics behind the multiplayer. That doesn’t mean that the singleplayer was tacked on without so much of a thought, but it doesn’t stand out enough from the multiplayer fights which is a shame, because every multiplayer game should have a singleplayer campaign, something Heliborne does, but doesn’t really emphasize.

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Graphics

Heliborne isn’t a bad looking game by any means. It shows what the Unity engine is capable of and it doesn’t pull its punches graphically. The helicopters all look different, and there’s little details on them that really stand out if you pay attention to them. If there’s one thing that isn’t really all that clear it’s the state of your helicopter should you take damage. It’s true that should you take hefty amounts of damage that your vessel starts spouting billowing clouds of steam and smoke. This makes it clear that you should start paying attention to taking down your enemies fast. There are however markers that also indicate damage, your screen starts cracking and bullet holes start appearing. Though this is effectually and aesthetically pleasing, having them pop up randomly and dissappear without any rhyme or reason to the actual damage you’ve already accumulated doesn’t help the player gauge his or her fighting prowesse. Sure there’s a meter indicating the state of your vehicle, but there’s something mildly disturbing about seeing bulletholes and cracked glass appear even though you’ve only suffered 10% damage.

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Sound

Listening to a game can be fun in and of itself, sometimes just setting a game on the menu and having a tune play without the player or the listener growing tired of it is something that’s rare, and usually only happens in AAA games. Heliborne is such a game, it’s not a AAA type of game, and “only” has the indie developers backing it, but it still does deliver quite well on the musical part. On the audio and sound engineering front it’s not bad either. When your friendlies are calling in help, you’ll really hear the stress in their pleas. On the other hand there’s a slight issue when you plug in a controller and the game goes all mute on you and the only way to remedy the situation is not using a controller to return the audio. That’s quite a downer, but will probably be fixed in a future update, because playing without a controller makes it hard to navigate the battlefields, and playing without audio isn’t exactly fun either.

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Gameplay

Heliborne is a third person/first person dog fighting indie game. It’s a game that balances both multiplayer content with singleplayer content. The singleplayer content helps you get to grips with the different helicopters, and there’s a lot of them, while the multiplayer helps you ease some of your stress by letting you shoot stuff up from the relative safety of your cockpit.

In the singleplayer campaign you’ll be tasked with saving your fellow armymen, while making sure they don’t die to enemy fire. Don’t go about taking your time or being away from your keyboard should you start up a mission, because you are on a timer, if it lapses, it’s game over, and you can start over again.

When it comes to the controls, the game is rather picky and difficult to get to grips with, playing with a controller is where it’s at, the subtle movements are less erratic when you use the thumbsticks . Somehow, however, there’s a delay between button prompts when it comes to the controller. Also the fact that the sound falls away completely makes the choice between pleasant audio versus bearable controls a rather glaring mistake on the developers’ part.

Heliborne_01

There are tutorials that should make the game more open to beginners, but having your tutorials throw you out of the game to take you to an internet page doesn’t really help immerse the player, imbedding them in your game or making them part of the game’s lore should set helicopter experience in stone more.

Conclusion

When it comes to the indie market on dog fighting games that are worth looking into, Heliborne does its best to be interesting. There are some issues that might throw off players and they are mostly because of imperfections. With some work and dedication on the developers’ part, Heliborne shouldn’t have a hard time etching a niche in the airborne brawler market. Yet if you are looking for an easy to learn and easier to master game, then keep looking because Heliborne rewards dedication and a nose to the grindstone attitude on the player’s part.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Heliborne - Review, 6.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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