While the space flight simulation genre continues to find support and solace in what promises to be a new era of multi-faceted offerings with games like Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen, sometimes you just want that feeling of dogfighting in your local arcade cockpit with a slice of pizza dripping onto your shirt as you blast an enemy starfighter to smithereens, watching the pixels burst. House of the Dying Sun taps into a lost era of starfighting simulation, successfully evoking the feeling of a classic space shooter like X-Wing, TIE Fighter, or Starlancer. If you’re looking for a story, forget it; it’s as cliché and barebones as they come. If you’re looking for tight gameplay, great music, and intense dogfighting, you’ve come to the right place.
A minimalistic story could be a serious detriment to other games, but the focus is clear here: Gameplay and space combat take center stage. Arcade-style movement with the ability to drift and brake on a dime after boosting to dodge a locked-on enemy combatant is satisfying, and you don’t need a HOTAS setup to enjoy it either – the core mouse and keyboard controls work great.
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With an upgradable arsenal of autocannons, heavy weapons, and sleek maneuvering around asteroids and other craft, you unleash hell on the enemies of the Emperor. The concept is simple and so are the missions, tasking the player to destroy enemy ships, defend allied assets, or run escort duty. Dogfighting in your craft with enemy fighters zipping around asteroids is intense fun, and missions are a quick restart if you run into an errant piece of space debris. The constant pace of combat is immersive and exciting, with the threat of enemy reinforcements always moments away, forcing you to complete your task and warp away before more difficult opponents join the fray.
It takes a a few mid-tier missions to really get the hang of ship control, assigning your other pilots tasks while shooting around the sky, and hopping into your allied vessels when your first option is turned into scrap, but the challenge summons a nostalgic feeling I enjoyed, though there’s little variety in mission structure or tasks.
The core game and missions can be completed in just a few hours, but many additional unlocks and challenges can keep the journey through space rolling for those seriously looking for more. Short length is not necessarily a negative point to a game, but it’s a noticeable detriment here, offering a tiny taste of what a full-fledged title could be within the same framework and strong mechanics.
Within the brief campaign, content offerings are sparse and consist mainly of tougher difficulty encounters or a challenge mode – simple, barebones stuff with graphics that don’t really live up to today’s standards. While the visuals are functional and crisp, they don’t need to be as blast-from-the-past as the rest of the title.
House of the Dying Sun is light on content offerings and depth, but big on giving players a modern day chance to experience the great gameplay that defined classic space shooters of an era long past.
|Dogfighting In VR|
|House of the Dying Sun’s lightweight graphics and laser-focus on crisp combat lend themselves admirably to a VR experience. If you have either a Rift or Vive, those should be your first choice for hopping into the pilot’s seat.|