Developer: All In! Games
Publisher: All In! Games
Release Date: March 31st, 2022
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC (as of March 31st, 2022)
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Red Wings: American Aces is an arcade-shooter that takes place during WWI. Take the pilot seat of various bi-planes and take to the skies as you complete various missions and take down enemies to turn the tide of the war.
Red Wings: American Aces is a deceptively complex game. The main campaign is split up into 30 missions, each one with their own unique set of circumstances, weather conditions, and story objectives. On the surface, it seems like the game would get old quick–fly around looking for enemy planes and shoot them down before they shoot you down. However, this is no one trick pony. Developer All In! Games has done a great job with the enemy AI, slowly increasing their difficulty level so that what was a walk in the park in earlier missions becomes much more than just an exercise in button mashing in later ones.
Most missions start out the same way–you are in the middle of a battle and you are given a certain objective to complete. You need to either defeat wave after wave of enemy airships, or find and shoot down enemy balloons before they find and shoot down your own, or several other configurations that I won’t spoil here. There are also weather conditions that get in the way, like a lightning storm at night or in one of the most difficult levels, a sand storm that completely made seeing and tracking enemy ships a very difficult prospect.
You have to keep an eye on your health, but also your gas gauge because if you run out of gas, you lose. Health drops are scattered across the sky, but you must be strategic as to when you collect them because they don’t repopulate, making later missions more about strategy and planning than earlier ones.
The gameplay is simple, but extremely fun. You have a few tricks up your sleeve–time a barrel roll just right and you can crash into an enemy and blow up their ship without taking any damage yourself. You can also target several enemies and send members of your squadron out to get them while you focus on other targets, adding in a welcome layer of strategy to the gameplay mix.
In each mission, you can earn a certain number of stars that can be used as currency to upgrade your plane and abilities, giving you a much needed edge in later missions. It’s a standard feature of modern video games, but Red Wings features a unique twist I haven’t seen in a game before. Rather than being locked in to whatever upgrade decisions you make throughout the game, you are able to sell back all of the stars you’ve used, which also removes all of the upgrades, but allows you to change up how you upgrade your abilities based on the mission you are trying to complete. Its a welcome addition to an abilities upgrade system that helps you not feel so trapped by the decisions you make and allows you to be more strategic and nimble; upgrading your plane and abilities in a way that is specific to each mission. I wish more games would implement this feature into their upgrade trees.
Though the story is light, the visuals are where this game absolutely shines, looking like a comic book brought to life with an art style ripped straight out of early twentieth century war propaganda ads. The cell-shaded art style is a technique that other developers have used before, but it works so well here. Sure, this is no graphical showcase, but it is an art style that I think will hold up for years to come.
In a world full of massive open world games like Eldin Ring or Horizon: Forbidden West, Red Wings: American Aces is a welcome breath of fresh air. Simple to understand and complicated to master, it is a nice change of pace that combines stellar artwork and tight controls with an upgrade system that gives you the ability to upgrade based on specific mission objectives. Some of the gameplay gets a little repetitive, but the nice difficulty ramp of the enemy AI and the sheer joy of flying through the skies makes you forget that you are doing many of the same actions over and over again. If you need a break from massive dozens-of-hours to complete games, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Red Wings: American Aces.
Mark Pereira is a senior writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.
Featured Image Source: All In! Games