It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a bird in a plane! Actually, it’s Steambirds Alliance, the latest game from Spry Fox (Road Not Taken, Alphabear) and it’s got the team exploring the world of MMOs with their own unique style and twists. Steambirds Alliance is a massively multiplayer shoot-em-up that finds you taking on the role of an ace pilot who is also a bird.
You’ll dog fight your way through the 2.5D landscapes of a vibrant cartoonish world reminiscent of the Road Runner Looney Tunes. You’ll take on various forms of aircraft stylized after or piloted by other anthropomorphic creatures, such as steel plated rhino-copters and giant cat skyships. Some enemies just fire bullets, others lay mines, and others may do things like drop rapid-fire short range drones. If you and the other players in your area manage to clear the skies of all the enemies you’ll get a chance to take on a massive raid boss.
As you traverse the battlefield taking on challenges your character will level and unlock even more vehicles beyond your standard steampunk inspired bi-plane such as a helicopter. Enemies will also drop upgrades for your plane like different gun types, engines that can boost your healing rate or speed, and different secondary attacks.
The combat itself is very straight forward, you can shoot, dodge attacks, boost your speed and if you have enough energy you can launch a special attack like a poison cloud or a mine. It’s all very reminiscent of Japanese bullet hell games, but with levels that allow you to explore territories freely as opposed to heading down a straight line towards a boss battle.
Steambirds Alliance is still in its Alpha phase, but the beta is on the way and it’s already looking like it’s going to be an interesting fit among an ever changing definition of what an MMO should be. If you like arcade style shmups or any of the Japanese bullet hell imports out there you’ll probably want to keep an eye on Steambirds Alliance.