Airheart is a "dieselpunk action game" about a woman named Amelia who lives among great, floating islands in the sky. She catches skyfish with her airplane, and dreams of one day reaching the stratosphere and bagging the fabled Skywhale, a feat which would earn her a lifetime of fame and fortune. But first, she has to survive against competing fishers, skypirates, and other threats that make the flying fishing profession a lot more dangerous than you might think.
The basics of gameplay sound quite straightforward—venture out to catch fish, return home safely to sell them, buy new equipment to upgrade your plane, do it all over again—but features like customizable planes, hidden "launch bases," boss fights, and blueprints for crafting promise to mix in some variety and complexity. The screens are gorgeous, too—you can see a few of them below—although the two-dimensional gameplay shown in the trailer leaves me a little bit less impressed. (A plane that can't go up or down is just a car with bad steering, right?)
Airheart will also dig into some powerful social themes: Amelia is an immigrant to "the Above," reaching it only after a perilous journey through the desert with her father—and learning quickly after her arrival that it is not as warm and welcoming a place as it seemed.
"The problem of social inequality and birth privileges is not the only one we want to touch in Airheart. The other one is overfishing of the sea ecosystem," the developers explained on Steam. "Overfishing is one of the biggest resource problems of the world. In our universe, fish are a seemingly unlimited resource that can be harvested into cash. Over time, this gives us the possibility make [sic] the resource scarcer for every player worldwide, transforming the lush seas of the sky into a battle zone, where fighting is essential to survive."
Airheart went live on Early Access today, "Because we don't want to go the whole way by ourself," Blindflug wrote. "We want to work with all your feedback to improve our game towards a goal you helped us to define. We are sure that you will give us lot of great ideas, which will make our game better than we ever could imagine."
I haven't tried it, but Tom got a chance to play and thought it was a fun roguelike, if still a bit rough around the edges. I think it looks quite promising, and I hope it can live up to the potential that it shows. It's currently available for 20 percent off its regular price, leaving it at $12/£9, until October 20.