Remember Realm of the Mad God? The bullet-hell MMO gained a cult following when Spry Fox released it a few years back, and now the indie studio is back with a new take on the genre they basically co-invented - Steambirds Alliance. A massively cooperative shoot-em-up that blends Ikaruga with beloved Action MMOs like Marvel Heroes, this one’s a title you all may want to keep an eye on.
Steambirds Alliance takes it way beyond RotMG, and gives you a persistent online world where you’re an ace pilot in the Steambirds in a war against the evil Cat Empire. You’ll have an army of ships at your disposal - think of them like classes - and like in RotMG, when you die you lose that ship’s progress. BUT! Your character and its skills don’t reset. So while you’ll have to rebuild lost ships’ arsenals, the skills and powers you earn for each of them is never lost.
WASD controls your ship, but you aim and shoot with the mouse, and speed up with Shift. It’s really simple, but extremely addictive - like any good ARPG. You get missions at the SBA home base, pick your ship, and go out into the wide world to shoot down cats, take on bosses, and loot sweet upgrades for your ships.
It’s a fun, frenetic, and addictive experience. But I will say that the UI and menus could use some polish. It’s a bit hard to figure out what you’re supposed to do at times, and the quest UI isn’t very clear at first. Additionally, the skills tree is kind of illegible and hard to figure out. It took me some time to figure out what each skill did and how I could obtain them by using skillpoints.
With those rough areas polished, Steambirds Alliance could be a really solid game. There are hundreds of weapons, enemies, bosses, and a never-ending list of missions to undertake. It’s fully cooperative, there’s no PVP involved. And it’s got a nice diesel-punk aesthetic that you just don’t see very often.
Will it take over your free time and replace all your more hardcore MMOs? Probably not. But it’s a fun game, and a solid quick-session MMO. It’ll be interesting to see how people take to Steambirds Alliance when it comes out this summer. The previous beta from this weekend isn’t wiping progress for the launch, so all the skills I unlocked on my pretty birds will be there waiting for me in the coming weeks. How about you? Will you be giving this little gem a shot when it launches?