Developer: Fractal Phase Games
Released: August 24, 2017
Sky Rogue is an intense, stylish, action-packed airplane fighter game with rogue-lite mechanics. Set in the far future, you take control of an assortment of futuristic planes, taking out enemy fighters in the air and on the ground, as well as strategic vehicles such as flying aircraft carriers or freighters, as well as buildings providing support for the enemy. If you bought itch.io’s Racial Justice bundle, then you already own it!
Sky Rogue consists of missions taking place in maps across 13 days. The rogue-lite theme is central to the core gameplay. You can’t play on the same maps twice, so each time you will have different terrain, enemies, and mission objectives. To clear a mission and proceed to the next day, you will need to fly to the objective, destroy it, then return to your base or an emergency landing. How you carry out your missions are left up to you as well, so you could just destroy the objective and immediately return, or spend hours fending off enemy fighters.
While you initially start with a modest plane and some weapons, each time you die, tech points earned by destroying enemies will be spent leveling up your tech level, allowing you to research more planes and weapons and using them in future playthroughs. You can also upgrade weapons and planes for more firepower, durability, and speed, among other stats, though these upgrades are lost on death.
While the game starts easy, the difficulty spikes at Day 5 and stays that way for the rest of the game. While there are plenty of camera modes, there wasn’t a “far” view that would give you better visibility of incoming missiles, making some dogfights harder. Despite the difficulty and camera, the fighting was surprisingly enjoyable. Taking down enemy planes takes effort, making them rewarding, and dodging missiles by rolling out of their way is fun. Not to mention that almost colliding into the ground or a building, pulling up and then evading at the last second makes for some thrilling moments.
Styling and Audio
Instead of using realistic environments and colors, Sky Rogue relies on low poly models and simple flat colors with little to no shading. Despite the limitations, the game pulls off its distinct art style well enough, giving it a cartoonish vibe that fits the fast, twitchy action. While most planes are similar in color, some do stand out (such as the BRONCO Warbird, which has a propeller instead of jet engines), and you can equip your planes with a variety of skins.
The audio is one of the best aspects of the game, combining exciting, high-speed arcade soundtrack with anime-like sound effects. Together and in tandem with the fast gameplay, dogfights are memorable, thrilling experiences.
Sky Rogue is terrific for an indie game. Mixing arcade gameplay with the randomly generated maps and missions of rogue-lite games, the game will keep you on the edge of your seat for hours, doing everything you can to survive and shoot down any threats coming your way. If you missed the Racial Justice bundle, the game is on sale at $7.98 for the next four days on itch.io and Steam!