So @Arkenbrien brought up a little game called Wings of St. Nazaire and asked for opinions from anyone who’s had a chance to play. So I decided to give it’s web-demo a whirl. The below is my impression after maybe five to ten minutes of play.
Gameplay is pretty standard airplane-in-space fare. There is no universal up and down, that I can notice anyway, but you’re limited to pitch/roll/yaw only; no strafing, no reverse thrust. It’s still fun once you get past that (or if that’s what you prefer).
You have access to several different types of gun and missile (2 and 3, respectively, if my count is correct, for the fighter you’re allowed to fly in the demo) and can switch between them easily enough, with options to fire a gun by itself, in tandem with other guns on your craft, or simultaneously with the same, though I have yet to determine a reason to do anything but go in all guns blazing.
I have no experience with the missiles aside from randomly flipping through my allotment and accidentally firing one, so I can’t comment on them…yet.
The game allows for both mouse/keyboard and external controllers, and I gave both options a whirl. In mouse/KB-mode, it’s a pretty standard 3D shooter, with the mouse controlling pitch/yaw through a “virtual joystick” type scheme, and the A and D keys controlling roll. Your mouse buttons fire your guns and missiles (left and right, respectively), with various keys on the keyboard performing functions such as weapons selection, target acquisition, and throttle (accelerate and decelerate are mapped to the W and S keys respectively; double-tapping W will activate your afterburner). Mouse is hella sensitive by default though, so that’s something to watch out for.
It also seems to play well with a joystick. It recognized my T-Flight HOTAS without any apparent difficulty, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to actually use the dang thing, so a nicely sized lump of salt should be kept on hand. The bindings seemed weird (pulling back on the stick pitched me “down”, for example), but I suspect that is due more to error on my part in not checking them than any fault of the game. Partial inputs along the axes of the stick and throttle were recognized without difficulty, and I had access to both the keyboard and the buttons on my HOTAS to access the various functions in the game
A note of caution: I had to exit the demo entirely in order to access the menu. I’m not sure if this is inherent to the game/demo, or if I’m just too thick to have found the appropriate control yet.
The settings menu is fairly robust, if basic. You have the ability to change various graphics options (no ability to change fidelity that I saw, but you can change the resolution of the window and toggle the existence of various extra effects, like persistent debris). Sound has sliders for both the music and effects, and you have full freedom in re-binding your controls, including choosing between controllers (thinking back, I probably should have spent a few more minutes on THAT particular screen ).
They’ve pretty much nailed this. Everything fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. Ship design, while pretty standard plane-in-space fare, has enough of a distinct style to stand out while still paying homage to its inspirations. The space backdrop I saw was a nice blend of artistic and realistic.
Bright colors are everywhere, but fail to clutter the screen, and it’s very obvious that they used and abused the retro aesthetic that they’ve chosen in order to focus on making the game look good rather than simply packing in the polygons; it’s not Crysis by any means, but damn it’s pretty. If you played and enjoyed older games like X-Wing or Wing Commander, you’ll probably enjoy the look of this game. There are times that they take the low-rez look a little far, such as the main menu, but everything is perfectly navigable, and it still looks nice anyway.
On a final note, the developers have added a lot of “little things” that really help sell the fantasy of being “in the cockpit”, such as your “avatar’s” hands moving the stick and throttle when you do, HOTAS or not.
Sound design seems, to me, to be spot on. Guns have sufficient ‘dakka’ to be satisfying, engine’s thrum nicely, and explosions are as big as can be hoped. Music is fast and “arcadey”, but also fun to listen to while being sufficiently in the background to not get in the way of gameplay-critical sounds.
I will definitely be keeping an eye on it and would suggest to anyone who reads to do so as well.