Title: Wing of Darkness
Developer: Production Exabilities
Release Date: June 3, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Clouded Leopard Entertainment
Genre: Aerial Shooter
Wing of Darkness is a game that really came out of nowhere. Its story is about a young girl, Klara, and her friend Erika who have been enlisted to become a Fraulein, a specialized soldier that pilots the Held System. Which is essentially power armor, but only a few are born with the skills to actually use them. The rest of the story follows these two as they fight in a war against the mysterious Blankers.
Wing of Darkness is presented through static image cutscenes where the character models are posed in the environment. This style is reminiscent of a visual novel but has a bit more depth to the scenes. This is complemented with the voice acting layered on top to make the narrative feel more expressive.
The gameplay has players pilot a mech through straightforward aerial combat where you dodge missiles and take out the enemy as fast as you can. There is some customization found as you choose your weapon load-outs for each mission before you take off. However, there aren’t too many unlockables provided you have all the weapons available at the start of the game. Regardless, I rarely found myself needing any weapons besides the default loadout that the game provided.
The problem isn’t really the simplicity of the combat but more in how little changes between each mission. The gameplay feels the same no matter which character you play as or what weapons you use. Enemies either die super fast or take forever to kill, with no real nice middle ground. There is a sense of depth though as you’ll have to take into consideration how far the enemies are to shot them down.
The UI is very clean and really sells the idea that you’re piloting a mech. The targeting system was fluid and responsive as you took aim at enemies. This also provides a nice sense of positioning on the map to let you know where you without cluttering the screen.
However, targeting doesn’t come without issues as it generally will target the main objective. This is fine in theory, but there are times when the enemies are so close together that the targeting systems are thrown off. It leads to moments of confusion as you chip away at an enemy’s health only to be switch to another one without knowing.
There’s a reticle meant to guide your shot, but it doesn’t always work properly. Sometimes, it’ll appear as if you are shooting nothing but then you see an explosion. There is a slight problem with knowing when I am hitting or missing even with the UI. I noticed that every once in a while a small yellow X would appear where I am shooting. Which I think is intended to indicate a hit.
This lack of hit registration does a lot to make me think some enemies just won’t die. Being able to see clearly whether I hit or missed a target would have been much easier to understand. This is disappointing because controlling the mech feels so smooth. There’s a decent balance between shooting and dodging that makes encounters feel rewarding, while I never directly felt challenged, I was engaged in completing the missions.
However, Wing of Darkness sadly suffers from an exceptionally short runtime. It is incredibly short and certain aspects of the story feel rushed because of it. I felt like I was going from a light-hearted story about two girls hanging out to a tragic war story full of loss and grief. Last only a little over 2 hours is not nearly enough to deliver a rounded narrative and give these characters the time needed to become fully realized.
Returning to the story for a bit, Wing of Darkness is entirely voiced in Japanese using simple subtitles. During missions, characters interact, even when your deep in the action. I found myself needing to divert my attention from the battle to the bottom of the screen frequently and oftentimes missed some important exchanges. I would have preferred a box with the character’s avatar in the top right corner of the screen so it felt like it was more a part of this world and easier to read.
Wing of Darkness doesn’t have enough time to really make its mark. Its 2-hour runtime and lack of customization or unlockables give little reason to return after the credits. It’s a shame because these characters are extremely likable and you can’t help but want to see their mission through. Here’s to hoping more comes from this series.
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