I’m a sucker for a good arcade-style score-chasing shooter, so Lost Wing appealed to me from the get-go with its slick fast-paced setup. However, this is a ‘shooter’ that does things a little differently, with an emphasis placed more on speed and picking the right moment to shoot than unleashing a storm of bullets ahead of you. It still manages to make for a pretty addictive experience though, even if it doesn’t always hit the mark in all aspects of its design.
Lost Wing doesn’t make a very good first impression, with its main menu one of the most cumbersome and awkwardly designed that I’ve come across in any game. The options that it offers aren’t fully explained or given any clarity, whilst the obvious aspects such as the track choice make you peruse through everything on offer with a lack of any option to cycle back and forth (and this includes locked options that aren’t available yet). It really is one of the most poorly designed aspects of the game, which is surprising given that it’s clear that a lot of care has gone into almost every other facet of the experience.
There are plenty of simple yet neat mechanics tied into Lost Wing’s core gameplay loop, with players leading a ship through a procedurally generated environment that’s full of obstacles to shoot or avoid, orbs to gather to increase your energy, and multipliers that’ll boost your score. Ultimately, survival is the key in the game, with the longer you manage to live through each hazardous course the higher your score will be in the end.
Your ship will blast forward automatically in the game, so all you’ve got to worry about is moving left and right, blasting your guns, and jumping at the right times. It’s almost like an endless-runner in a way, though you do have multiple lives to ensure that the stakes aren’t too high if you accidentally make a mistake.
You also have access to a boost which will allow you to speed ahead, which in turn recharges your energy when you hit top speed. Naturally, having an increased speed means that you’re more at risk of colliding with an obstacle, so this itself adds an extra element of risk to Lost Wing. However, with some hefty jumps to clear and the fact that shooting uses up energy, there’ll be plenty of times where you’ll need to speed through levels just to maintain your energy and momentum to survive. It can make the game feel extra tricky to play, but it also adds a thrilling element to survival where you’re really kept on your toes and have to be quick to react to your surroundings.
You do have an additional trick up your sleeve which can help you out when caught in dangerous situations: the ability to slow time. See a bunch of obstacles up ahead that you don’t think you’ll be able to weave in between? Slow time down and give yourself an extra advantage. It adds an extra tactical element to Lost Wing’s gameplay that shows that the game isn’t ALWAYS just about going fast, though the fact that it uses up some of your energy does mean that you can’t be carefree with its use either.
If you do manage to survive through a level, you’ll face off against a boss that provides a creative challenge that continues to push your skills to their limit. However, these showdowns don’t necessarily mark the end of a level; Lost Wing is designed to be a score-chasing experience after all, so if you survive you can just keep playing and continue to rack up a high score. This might sound like it could get a little tiresome over time, but the randomized nature of levels ensures that they never grow stale and always feel unpredictable in design. The fact that the game is a whole lot of fun to play helps too, whilst the buzz of chasing high scores and seeing your name light up the leaderboard keeps the experience feeling addictive.
It all comes together nicely to make for a lot of arcade-like fun, with the speed of Lost Wing keeping things intense and your various abilities and rationing of your energy adding an element of strategy where you need to think your each and every action through. It’s worth noting that it can actually be pretty tricky at times, but never in an unfair way that’ll frustrate players. I mean, sure, it sucks to die, but it’ll always be because of a lack of preparation or a stupid move on the player’s part.
That’s not to say that Lost Wing is perfect in all elements of its design though, with the aforementioned menu issues certainly standing out as a problem. However, it was the requirement to grind that bothered me the most, with the game’s different environments and additional ships locked until you reach a required level in-game. Levelling up is tied to racking up scores so it occurs through gameplay, though it can actually take a fair bit of time before you get to see all of the additional content of the game. I like an element of progression in games and it’s nice to have something to work for, but the repetitive nature of Lost Wing’s gameplay means it could’ve benefitted from offering some of its extra a little bit earlier.
I do have to give some praise to Lost Wing’s performance on the Nintendo Switch, with the frame rate remaining silky smooth throughout and the visuals managing to stand out with the bright lights across the slick landscapes. Whilst I will admit it can get a bit repetitive seeing a lot of the same things over time, they always manage to look neat in-game and really suit the fast-paced nature of the experience.
Lost Wing is an entertainingly frantic score-chasing shooter that’ll certainly keep players hooked in with its addictive gameplay, though it does have a few areas that could do with improvement – most notably with its progress system and its awful menus. These don’t stop the game from being a lot of fun to play though and it’s one that I’ve been coming back to time and time again lately as I look to rack up those high scores…
Developer: BoxFrog Games
Publisher: 2Awesome Studio
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Official Website: http://boxfroggames.com/wp/lostwing/