Thursday, April 12

Review: Skies of Fury DX [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While I’ve never been in a real dogfight, let alone flown a plane in the first place, over the years I have taken out my share of bogeys going back to the early days. The thrill of evading enemy fire, lining up someone in your crosshairs, and blowing them out of the sky just carries a certain thrill. In a nutshell that’s what Skies of Fury DX offers at its core, and your mileage will greatly depend on whether that thrill stays with you.

In Skies you’ll take to the air on both sides of World War I, fighting for the British and for the Germans. For the most part the missions types and structures for them both are identical, but the planes for each side vary in their appearance and fine tuning of performance so while playing as both sides is necessary for progression it is also plenty of fun. Your basic controls end up being throttle and yaw on the left stick and maneuvering on the right, with the right trigger for shooting your guns and the left for triggering your ultimate attack once it charges up. Once you get to a certain point you’ll begin to need to make use of the left buttons or D-Pad which trigger evasive maneuvers when you’ve got someone on your tail and the B button to have one of your allies group up on your wing to add some oomph to your firepower (though potentially also leaving both of you a little more vulnerable).

Your primary mode will be the Campaign, which sports 100 stages in total. In general these break down into 3 types of challenges: straight-up dogfights between you and some allies against waves of enemies, a race against the clock that will have you flying through rings and shooting targets to keep the clock from running out until your reach the final green ring, and escort missions where your focus is on protecting some other planes from being shot down. Of the 3 types escort missions tend to be the easiest, which is good since these kinds of modes are sometimes a disaster. With the timed stages the main focus should usually be on not sweating getting everything if you can keep your speed up. With dogfights as things wear on decisions like whether to take out enemy aces first or later is always tough, trying to protect your allies so you’re not the only target in the sky too early is also worth considering.

If you find it to be too easy you can layer on challenges that will very much make things tougher, though the experience rewards for doing so will help you level more quickly and will award you more loot crates for you to customize your planes and crosshairs with. Leveling up will give you a very Borderlands-esque set of 3 skill focuses to choose from, and while it is tempting to go all in for one area to get more advanced skills there’s a case to be made for balance, especially as you go up against tougher enemies in later campaigns. To round things out there’s then a Survival mode that you can test yourself alone in or with a friend as well as a local Versus mode where you can take on each other.

In terms of weaknesses I’d say that the action is very arcade-like and can be fun but there’s no reality to it. In general this is more like space combat where there are no effects from gravity at all and you’re able to fly in any direction and orientation with no consequence. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, since the result is fun, just something to keep in mind in the event such a thing could bother you. Aside from everything progressively getting tougher and the odds continuing to be more stacked against you there’s also not that much variety to play, you’re mostly just applying the same skills to new situations that are similar. The challenges you can throw onto the pile will really make you work once you get past the first campaign though so I’d say the level of difficulty is nicely tunable so you can hit a sweet spot where it suits your skill level. Aside from the patterns enemy planes flying in at times defying gravity, physics, and common sense for the most part combat is fair and pretty balanced and eventually you will begin to lose and need to step up your game if you’re keeping yourself at the proper challenge level that maps to your skill.

Overall, I had a pretty great time with Skies of Fury DX, and found it acted as my go-to for a while when I needed a break, as it was quick to just jump into and have some fun. It’s been a while since I’ve played a game with aerial combat this engaging so that’s exciting, but stepping back I can appreciate how it’s very arcade take on things could potentially be a sticking point for some people. If you walk into it understanding what it offers and tune the difficulty to match your skill level it can be a whole lot of engaging fun though.

Score: 8

  • 100 levels of progressively-increasing difficulty
  • Loads of options for tweaking your stats as you level up with a Borderlands-like set of 3 skill trees
  • Degree of difficulty can be managed with Challenge settings, which also give more experience and loot crates (that are free to unlock) for success
  • Survival and Versus modes can be enjoyed locally with a friend

  • If you’re hoping for realism (see: gravity) you’ll be disappointed with how much it embraces arcade sensibilities instead
  • If the thrill of dogfighting in itself isn’t a hook for you it will likely begin to feel repetitive pretty quickly