A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Although the music and visuals are clearly meant to conjure up WWI and WWII in players' minds, the game never mentions the Axis or Allied forces by name and doesn't have narrative or dialogue. It simply uses a vague notion of wars from the first half of the twentieth century as a stage for its aerial dogfights. There's no commentary, political or otherwise.
Positive Role Models
The only characters players see are static, mute images of engineers and officers in menu screens. The assumed pilots at the helm of the game's wee aircraft are suicidal daredevils, but little (if anything) of what they do is feasible in the real world.
Ease of Play
Luftrausers is a skill-based game in which players get only one life per mission. Most players are unlikely to last more than 30 seconds or so the first few times they play, but, as they become more familiar with the controls and unlock more powerful pieces of equipment for their planes, they'll start to survive longer.
Violence & Scariness
Players shoot at planes and boats using machine guns, lasers, and rockets. All the vehicles in the game are tiny and pixelated, and weapon fire generally takes the form of little blips of light. People are never shown hurt or dead, and there's no blood or gore.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Luftrausers is a side-scrolling aerial-combat game with simple graphics and no blood or gore. Players spend their time shooting down planes and sinking ships, but the retro monochromatic landscape shows only explosions and doesn't include images of people getting hurt or killed. Although the action is clearly inspired by the ace pilots of World War I and World War II, the game stops short of naming countries, using recognizable symbols, or referencing any of the politics of the era. Its intent is simply to deliver a thrilling, old-school aerial-combat experience.
Is It Any Good?
Without a story or even any specific missions, Luftrausers relies solely on the fun of its aerial combat to keep players coming back, and it fares marvelously at that. Simple controls for movement and shooting combine with a natural physics system to create a fun and intuitive interface. The pull of gravity and the backward recoil of weapon fire feel right, making Luftrausers' planes a delight to pilot. Most players will be pulling off graceful acrobatic maneuvers within minutes.
But, although it's easy to get the hang of the controls, it's a hard game to master, mostly because of the intensity of enemies and incoming fire. Unlockable weapons, engines, and plane bodies provide much-needed advantages. Equally important are side objectives, such as destroying a certain number of battleships in a single mission or firing a certain number of shots without missing, which encourage players to try different styles and approaches. Ultimately, this makes you a better player, and once you start feeling truly skilled, there's no turning back. Luftrausers will keep you coming back for weeks.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.