The top-down shooter is a genre of gaming that always offers some great fun to gaming. Getting effective power ups to take out waves of oncoming foes, carefully moving away from waves of bullets and more makes this genre of gaming a very fun one to play.
Infinite Dreams released Sky Force in the past on iOS and Android to great success and recently they revamped this title for consoles with Sky Force Anniversary. Does the game adapt well to a traditional control set up and offer great fun?
Gamplay and Design
The gameplay in Sky Force Anniversary is that of a simple top-down shooter. You can move around with the analog sick or D-Pad, press X to fire your gun and use other modes of fire as you further upgrade your ship. But what makes Sky Force interesting is how your ship changes across the game.
When you first boot up the game, your ship is fully upgraded and is quite powerful, so much that your player character takes on the big bad villain of the game right from the start. Sadly your ship explodes and you have to start from square one. This means your ship has basic firing options after this point and you have to build up your ship’s power levels.
This shift in power dynamics is the reason gameplay here works so well, as it pushes a high replay incentive. Every level has four different goals (don’t get hit, kill 75% of foes, kill 100% of foes, save all humans) and getting two of each goal unlocks the next level. But which goals you complete or if you can complete all four goals depends on how well you maneuver your ship in addition to how powerful your ship’s systems are.
As you take down foes and destroy objects, you get stars which can be used to upgrade yourself. This upgrade system is expansive, with each part of your ship having many upgrade levels. With that in mind, you will be replaying levels over and over again not only for your best times and scores, but to get more starts to deck-out your ship.
Playing later levels with a powerful ship or going back to a level you died twice on before with a new upgrade is a nice feeling. The designs of the levels are also well done, with enemy patterns being clear to read and the game never getting overtly frustrating. You will die many times due to lack of upgrades in early levels but the more you play and upgrade your ship, the better you can survive the games thirteen levels.
Overall the gameplay here is solid and very polished, offering a more methodical take on the traditional top-down shooter.
Sky Force Anniversary offers over thirteen levels to play through with each level having four different goals to complete. In addition, you get timed for each level so you can get better scores or times the more you play a level. With the star system in place regarding upgrading your ship, replay value is very natrual as the game’s core design encourages you to replay many of the levels over and over again.
The presentation here is very polished, with the game running at a locked frame rate on the Vita with support for native resolution. In addition, the effects and locations have a lot of visual depth to them, with a high amount of detail (water effects, detailed trees, ect). The opening of the game when you first play it does a good job highlighting how nice the visuals look.
The game has great sound work, with rewarding sound effects playing when shooting and hitting foes while the music has a nice retro sound to it. Audio is also not compressed, making the audio having a high quality to it across the entire experience.
Gamplay & Design – 4 out of 5 / Lasting Appeal – 4 out of 5 / Presentation – 4.5 out of 5
Sky Force Anniversary is very enjoyable top-down shooter for the PS Vita, PS4 and PS3 that takes many elements from the genre but does some clever twists to the progression system. This makes the game have more depth and content than one would expect, with strong visuals and high replay value only helping the game. I enjoyed this top-down shooter a lot and recommend it.
Overall: 4 out of 5
This game was reviewed on the PS Vita with a review copy provided by the developer. The game is out now for the PS Vita, PS3 and PS4. The title supports cross-buy and cross-save.