AX:EL – Air XenoDawn is a futuristic flight simulator developed by Axe Eel Games that puts players in a malleable craft with the ability to fly through the air and dive underwater. The game’s story is set on an Earth recovering from the damage of World War III, which was caused by the discovery of a powerful metal. The metal allowed for the development of shape-shifting weapons and aircraft.
Players have access to two game modes, an aircraft and weapons shop, and a customization screen titled HUB. The HUB lets players get a good look at their aircraft and make purchases using earned MSM, the shorthand name for the malleable metal used for each aircraft. Players can purchase new, better aircraft to replace their own or equip new weapons for added power or range. The two game modes that are included in Air XenoDawn are Arena and Mercenary Missions.
Arena allows players to take part in either a free-for-all game or a team deathmatch, with any mixture of living and AI opponents. Adding in several AI opponents to fight makes the game more interesting and intense as fighters struggle to fly around each other, dive into the water for evasive maneuvers, and fight to survive and earn the top score by shooting down the most fighters. Mercenary Missions are the game’s story mode which follows a nameless ace that takes part in a conflict mixed with science fiction elements and unique levels to explore and fight in. An early mission challenges players to go into a series of caves and tunnels underwater where they eventually come across a massive creature that immediately chases after them.
Though Air XenoDawn has several interesting features and a remarkable effort for story, there are a few weaknesses to the game. Controls, for example, are sadly limited to keyboard and mouse or joystick. Though the joystick option is reasonable, I myself don’t have that equipment and would actually prefer to use an actual gamepad controller. Using the mouse and keyboard just feels weird and doesn’t allow for smooth motion and gameplay. The Mercenary Missions also can’t help but feel repetitive, especially if you take the time to read the mission briefing before starting the mission itself. The initial opening dialogue, shown in classic text-boxes at the bottom of the screen, matches the mission briefing almost word for word. It’s also impossible to skip any of the cutscenes and dialogue within a mission, so if a player dies or has to restart the mission, they will have to sit through the introduction again unless they reached one of the very few checkpoints that exist within a level.
Air XenoDawn is currently available on PC for $12.99 on Steam. While the graphics are not spectacular, they do offer an interesting look at a game that is obviously trying to revamp the flight sim arcade genre. I think it’s a great effort, but it does suffer from certain control limitations and repetition issues. For more information, follow the Axe Eel Games on Twitter or on Facebook.