Flightpath: Adventures in Venaris (PS4|5 - XBOX - Switch - PC)

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Sturmvogel Prime
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Flightpath: Adventures in Venaris (PS4|5 - XBOX - Switch - PC)

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With Namco dominating the Arcade Archives for a whole month, let's review something a little different, and boy, I should be glad to return to the indie shmup scene for a little while.
Do you think I should be glad, right? Right? But I'm not. Why? The game is not the indie shmup experience I was expecting.
Today's review is Flightpath: Adventures in Venaris by Illogic Games.

A little bit RPG for a shmup, don't ya?

Multiple save slots are uncommon in shmups, being Qute's Ginga Force and Natsuki Chronicles the exceptions, but common in RPG's like The Legend of Zelda, Xenosaga and CrossCode where clearing the game will require you days or weeks of multiple play sessions, but its nice to have multiple choices just in case the player screws up or wants to play with a different character while keeping the previous progress rather than starting all over again.

Select Your Machine!

Now I see one of the reasons of so many slots. You can select one of the three available fighters. Having more than 1 aircraft always open the possibility of different storylines and with a 10 stage long game you might want to take a break or give other ships a try before resuming your past game, and that's what this game does, give us three different storylines, a girl who wants to avenge her friend's flower shop, a detective framed and a former aircraft racer looking for fame and in a twist of fate, overthrow the Syndicate like the other two pilots.

A game to waste a few hours of your life.

The gameplay of Flightpath is pretty much like an average textbook shooter where the objective is the simple premise of defeating the boss at the end, but strangefully, there's missions where there's no boss at all, rather objectives. For a basic shmup, there's no power up items to pick, except for the batteries to refill the bomb. While lacking of support units, you are granted additional weapons for your ship, increasing its damage capabilities. A little innovation for a common concept. Like U.N. Squadron, your enemies grant you money to purchase items, but unlike U.N. Squadron, this is not the "Money per enemy" format. Instead, they drop the coin, and sometimes they don't, making this a luck factor. The bomb mechanic is quite unorthodox. Unlike any other shmup where you can blast the bomb stock at your own pace until it runs out, here its a gauge split in thirds which at first doesn't mean trouble, until you burn a bomb. Right after using a bomb, an orange bar will block the yellow gauge and you can not use your remaining bombs until the orange gauge depletes, and that takes not three or five seconds, but 15 seconds, fifteen fucking seconds to be able to use a bomb. That's insane and absurd! And in a shmup that features bullet spray elements from the enemies this compromises the survival unless you're a pro. As for the standard yellow bar, there's actually two ways to refill it. The first one is obviously by picking the battery item but also by stop firing. When your ship is not shooting the bomb gauge will refill faster than when you're shooting, but still its completely absurd to be unable to fire your remaining bombs. That was justified on R-Type III: The Third Lightning when you used the R-9O's Hyper Mode and the weapon was overheated, but it was a side-effect in return of rapid and powerful blasts instead of the basic charge shot.

Don't you hate when the mission requires a split decision?

Another reason to have multiple save slots was the "Route Branching". Like G-Darius and Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere, you can decide which path you want to take in your mission, and the decisions you make they will affect the next levels you'll be sent to and even change the ending.

The Price of Power.

Remember what I've said about "Like in U.N. Squadron"?, This game has a store format where you can spend money to repair your ship and equip more cannons to install stronger bullets, lasers or even missiles. This also applies on Armor and Shields. You can also buy Generators to increase your firepower capacity and bring more weapons to the battle.

Plastic toy appearance, that ain't the "Flightpath" I want on Indie shmups.

Sadly, this game is full of flaws. Starting off with the hitbox which is the entire ship, and keep in mind, this is a semi-bullet hell, which will mean you'll be taking more hits than once, also, add a fast moving player ship, it makes things more difficult and sometimes you'll be losing all of your energy. Speaking of damage, you can get your energy drained fast because of the very short invincibility time between hits, a hit that takes your shield will not protect you from a bullet that touches your ship, making it a one-two punch for your HP bar, and this is one of those games where you are not granted spare lives.

Penalty Chores.

The worst thing you can do in this game is dying, not because it will fail the mission, but because you have to do a side-quest in order to get your ship repaired, fail the side-quest (regardless if you were shot down or you comitted deliberate suicide) and you'll be back to the game with your ship repaired, at least partially because you'll be sent with 50% unless you pay for the repairs. There is a way to dodge the penalization and continue the game as if nothing happened. When your ship is retreating when HP hits zero, hit the PS button, select "Close Application" and then open it again. Is a solution but not a short term one, because you'll be navigating another "Flightpath" for doing this: Made With Unity > EastAsiaSoft > Epilepsy Warning > Illogic Games > Flightpath logo. Right after the unskippable logo shit, you can finally select the saved game and resume the level where you left off. Is more than clear that the assholes who made this game didn't cared to add a logo skip function. Compare that to Ace Combat 7, you can skip the logos as soon as they appear and you press the button.

Looks like the nobody tested this game.

I swear the Syndicate Defector defense on Mission 08 (Quangori Jungle) is broken on purpose. It took me three fucking attempts to complete it. ¿Why? Because the Defector moves towards the bullets very, very, VERY often, and the only way to keep her sorry existence alive is by either taking damage or unleashing a special attack, and hope she doesn't get hit until the you can shoot the next one. This is almost as bad as the infamous NES X-Men game by LJN where bad AI support wrecked the gameplay, and is definitely something you don't want on a shmup.

The luck (and your game) stops here.

The final boss is also unwinnable in purpopse, being the first form the worst of all. As if dealing great amounts of damage despite having the strongest armor and shield wasn't enough, it is backupped with enemies that appear from everywhere randomly, and believe me, there's nothing more frustrating that losing more than 2/4 of health due to a collision with an enemy and realize that the cause of the collision was that you were trying to dodge the boss attacks. I guess Illogic Games tried to do a boss battle in the style of Ginga Force, but back there you had better chances due to a small hitbox and the fact that the enemies were 1-hit to kill rather than having a life bar and taking specific amounts of damage. But Flightpath is just broken, unfair and unbalanced. You might be thinking "Buy the most expensive and powerful weapons and stop whining!", well I got more bad news. Even the most expensive generator can't hold a super arsenal, so regardless of which generator you buy, you're stucked with limitations, it's like "You can try and pick strong weapons, but in the end you can't". Believe it or not, that annoying and almost impossible ship was only the first form of the boss and you have to fight him again, but this time as a base. Comparing the difficulty, looks like surviving the first form the final boss is an utmost matter of pure luck, pure, divine and planetary aligned luck. The second form of the final boss is quite fun. As it is a multi-screen wide boss battle that requires to take down the shield generators, it feels a bit like the first Thunder Force games, so you have more than enough space to fight.

Endless is the second mode of the game, and this is the "Survival Mode" where you have to achieve the longest distance possible. Like in the normal game, you can buy upgrades and generators. As an exclusive of this mode, you can purchase upgrades to increase the overall damage of your weapons, increase the HP of your ship and shield, and even reduce the energy consumption of the Generators, making them much more efficient, but as long as you keep buying these upgrades they'll increase their price. So you can't rely on buying tons of them throughout your Endless playthrough. Also, the branching mechanic is also applied in a different way. Since there's no plot in this mode, the stage splitting will grant you 3 perks that will affect you and your enemies in either positive or negative ways like increasing the number of enemies, making them stronger, or worse; disabling money or your shield for the stage. Perks can also include additional objectives like escorting an ally, destroying warehouses or picking crates

If you've picked this game for trophies, guess what? The fucking thing will not be able to synch your PlayStation trophies, rendering this feature useless. Good Lord! Looks like I've got the losing numbers this time, but guess what? You need to turn off and restart the console to synch them. I don't know if there's flaws on the XBOX port, and you know what? I don't care. I'm not gonna waste another 10 dollars for this game. Also, with all these unbalances on the difficulty, would you want to play the game more than once? Of course not.

Blinding lights in the fires of hell.

The graphics feel dull and uninspired most of the times, which is a shame considering how much effort they've put to the logo, which looks like an official anime adaptation logo. Yeah, you can imagine something like "Saban's Flightpath: Adventures in Venaris" and the technological honeycomb in the background makes it look amazing and professional as well, but it all falls down once you're in the game as it feels like an early XBOX demo, XBOX in "first XBOX" term. Like if someone took an old demo and gave it the HD treatment and that's it and the result is a somewhat plastic looking scenery and machinery that is not just dull and empty, but with that sensation of playing a low-to-zero budget shmup that plagues most of the indie shmup library. The only amazing thing is the lighting effects for all the beam weaponry of the game.

Mass Effect Andromeda looked better than this.

While the character artwork is quite good and most of the time it feels like a visual novel, I can't say the same for the cutscenes. Just take a look at it it was like "We need a van stopping in the city" *SLAM!* is slapped on the aerial view of the town. Zero efforts on making a cutscene, but that's what happens when you have cutscenes done by people thinking they're Type-Moon (Fate/Stay Night) and end up doing what they're doing. If there's a saving grace is the fact the cutscenes at least look much better than Breakthrough Gaming's visual abominations.
The music of this game is a combination between generic electronic with some percussions based on retro "Synthwave" which tries to break the monotony of indies using the same music style constantly, but it fails. It not just becomes repetitive, it becomes easily forgettable.


Quite Engrish-y

- When you die as A.J. Micah says "What can I do you for?" instead of "What can I do for you?".
- Metal Guy might be a nod to the Marvel film Iron Man.
- Mr. Fusion and its description refers Back to the Future.
- The Unobtanium Armor's description is a reference to the book Startide Rising and the films The Core and Avatar.

Consequence of Developer Idiocy

In the end, this game had some potential, but the critical flaws and punitive side-quests kill them all. This game is the worst massacre of the word "Flightpath" you can ever imagined since, aaaah...this game was created.
A mess like Flightpath: Adventures in Venaris just backups my theory about EastAsiaSoft being like another LJN, monopolizing on shitty games, and really, EastAsiaSoft has to check if the shmups are worthy of being distributed instead of publishing anything for a buck.

OPUS 2 Edalune Grant
< <
So 10 bucks died for nothing.> >
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