Su­per­flight

EDGE - - GAMES -

Su­per­flight’s de­vel­op­ers are all too aware of the per­ceived short­falls of their wing­suit sim­u­la­tor. In fact, the game’s Steam page lists ev­ery­thing it lacks. “This game doesn’t have,” it an­nounces, “he­li­copters, guns, a sound­track, a lev­el­ing sys­tem, a cin­e­matic story, Twitch live in­te­gra­tion or loot boxes.” To which we say – thank christ. Free from the trap­pings of most mod­ern fare, then,

Su­per­flight is a re­fresh­ingly min­i­mal­ist, score-chas­ing flight sim that en­thralls through an un­can­nily ac­cu­rate re­cre­ation of the sen­sa­tion of speed. Start a run, and you’re spawned into a pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated chunk of sky, near huge rock for­ma­tions. The rush of the fall is in­stant and pure, only the wind whip­ping around your blocky form of­fer­ing the con­vinc­ing il­lu­sion that you are in­deed go­ing very, very fast – no thump­ing elec­tro re­quired. Twitchy con­trols mean even tiny tilts see you sail­ing off in wide arcs, some­times bat­tling the breeze, while lean­ing forward slightly sends you hurtling down­ward even faster to stom­ach-flip­ping ef­fect.

The quicker you plum­met, the twitchier move­ment gets – and the closer you fly to rocks, the more points you rack up. Skim­ming over a sur­face has your score climb at a pleas­ant rate. Spot a gap or a cave, how­ever, and a suc­cess­ful flight through will boost it by thou­sands. In the ab­sence of lev­el­ling, progress comes from ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion to pur­pose­fully fussy con­trols – and the bets you make with your­self upon see­ing a par­tic­u­lar set of metaphor­i­cal mon­key bars in the rocky play­grounds, re­set­ting lev­els un­til you man­age to whizz through the fis­sure un­scathed.

Once you’re off, the terse thrill of main­tain­ing mo­men­tum for as long as pos­si­ble kicks in. Com­bos con­tinue if you keep scor­ing in quick suc­ces­sion. Here, au­dio cues come into their own: fly away from danger for a breather, and a cos­mic cash regis­ter some­where ka-chings as points are banked. Crash, and the wind in your ears dis­ap­pears along­side a blink-in­duc­ing (and rather funny) crunch. End of combo.

And you’re back, drop­ping through clouds be­low or dip­ping through por­tals to spawn some­where else in the hopes of an eas­ier time, or more points po­ten­tial, or sim­ply a fresh view. Chain­ing to­gether these changes of scenery is both tac­ti­cal and vaguely nar­ra­tively sat­is­fy­ing – the seam­less, shift­ing jour­ney of ev­ery flight dream you’ve ever had. It feels strangely per­sonal, in that re­gard: an ex­pe­ri­ence that, were we the stream­ing sort, we’d be ret­i­cent to share on Twitch.

All told, it’s a slight, es­sen­tially ba­sic lit­tle game. We doubt it will be­grudge us a score which takes that into con­sid­er­a­tion: in­deed, its hum­ble en­try fee says plenty. But in a mar­ket of ex­cess, of bom­bast and loot boxes – of­ten, at the expense of ac­tual fun – this joy­ous, re­mark­ably ac­com­plished ex­pres­sion of the ul­ti­mate fan­tasy pro­vides some welcome re­lief.

Al­though per­haps not as strik­ing as they could be, there are sub­tle weather ef­fects and level furniture in Su­per­flight’s lev­els: sprin­klings of snow, or fluffy neon trees, that add signs of life to your lonely air­borne so­journs

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