Watch the Skies in Steampunk Shmup Altostratus

Steampunk Starfox. Well, not really, but that was the vibe I got from Drawlight’s picture of their animal team of crack pilots for their game, Altostratus. The pencil sketch style easily grabbed my attention, but only hinted at just how beautiful the game’s backgrounds could be as well. The game’s artwork and setting really stand out in the shmup market, where most of my battles have taken place in outer space. It’ll be nice to get back to some old-timey, 1943-styled dogfights again.

Set in an alternate universe at the turn of the New Century, players are tasked with delivering a diplomatic message. With little backup to help you get your message to where it needs to go, you’ll have to diplomatically shoot your way deep into enemy territory, taking down the enemy’s planes in this auto-scrolling shmup. Doing so sounds like it would be a joy just from the audio effects alone, with every shot making a loud, satisfying clank when it hit something. It gave the aerial combat a weight and presence, making you feel every impact on the planes.


While the enemy seems to have no shortage of planes to keep that message from getting through, there is going to be a sort of power-up crafting system to help you, according to the developer. There were hints of its use in the trailer, using a series of cogs down the side of the screen, but its effects don’t seem fully fleshed out yet or were otherwise unclear. Having to mix and match items to make the right weapon or tool while shooting down enemy planes could make for some hairy moments in a shmup, though, and create a neat draw to the game.

The video is of the 1.0 build, so a few elements, such as player damage and hit detection, seem to be still in development at this stage. Even so, the artwork is nice, solidifying the Steampunk feel of the game between stages, and the artwork in the demonstrated level looks sharp. Drawlight’s just getting started with this concept, and you can follow up on its development on their Facebook page. Hopefully, you’ll never have to keep that frog out of trouble.

Fiction writer, indie lover, and horror game fanatic. If it's strange, personal, terrifying, or a combination thereof, he wants to play it.

  • Pretty cool-looking game. Love old-school shooters like 194[x]. Since this one appears to emulate the vertical shooters in the arcade, where the aspect ratio of the monitor was transposed, it would be nice to have an in-game option to rotate the display by 90 degrees, allowing the user to physically rotate their widescreen monitor.

  • It’s still early in development, so there’s plenty of time for things to get added in as they get suggested. The developer also told me that you can turn around and chase any planes that sneak by you, so I’m wondering how that will factor into the gameplay (like having to chase bosses).