Skydrift Infinity Review

Although the console release of Microsoft Flight Simulator may be the game exciting the many plane enthusiasts amongst us right now, it’s not the only game to have been released with an aerial focus. For those unaware, Skydrift Infinity is also a game featuring some rather interesting looking planes and courtesy of developer THQ Nordic and publisher HandyGames, touchdown is here for this one also.  

Skydrift Infinity is a frantic and fast-paced arcade-styled dogfighter. What does that mean I hear you ask? Well, if you’re looking for a relaxing New York to Tokyo flight, you’ve come to the wrong place.

From the first moments you arrive at the main menu, the greetings proceed with a very edgy rock backing track that sets the tone, and as you gander through the options and on into gameplay, it’s this very same vibe that fills the essence of Skydrift Infinity throughout. Sadly, it never comes to the forefront to make much of a major impact.

There are three ways to play the game. The first stop is Campaign, and it’s this mode in which you’ll find the core focus of things. Here players push through an early tutorial stage, learning how to drift, utilise powerups, and essentially how to get about when out on the track. From here you put that newfound knowledge to the test through seven stages. Each stage comes with a number of different events to complete from three different possible event types.

Power Race introduces a very ‘kart racing’ feel to things – albeit in an aeroplane. This event type sees players race through the track over a number of laps, picking up both offensive and defensive powerups in a bid to reach the finish line in the first place. None of the powerups are really all that original with a shockwave, guided missiles, repair kits, mines, and a machine gun amongst the options.

Speed Race is very simply a standard race with powerups taken away, and ‘speed rings’ introduced. Each of these speed rings provides their user with a brief speed boost and should you manage to chain several together, you’ll likely find yourself at the front of the pack going ridiculously fast, or you’ll find yourself crashing headfirst into the closest jagged rock. Once more the winner is the one who crosses the line first.

Finally, we have Survivor, your typical Elimination event. This one was a personal irritation for me. I’m not usually a big fan of elimination type races anyway as I can rarely handle the pressure. What made this one an irritation however was the need to wait an entire minute before any countdown to elimination actually began. Given most tracks will see a minute of play cover an entire lap, it seems you have to do a fair bit of standard racing before you actually get into the part that matters. To some, it may feel like setting the tone for the race, but when no other event does this, it only made it feel like the game was being forcibly fleshed out.

With Seven stages, and between five and six events in each before the finale in stage seven, you’d be forgiven for thinking there has to be a little more to it all. Of course, you can up the difficulty should you find yourself cruising through it all a little quickly, but as the main game mode, you’d expect a little more to do, or at least some kind of progressive feel to things. There are some in-game awards such as Medals and Badges to unlock, and these give a slight run against the grain for those looking for something a bit more challenging to do, but with the majority of these proving rather generic, you’ll have most unlocked by the end of your playthrough without trying.

What makes things worse is the majority of stages are the same tracks repeated over and over due to the fact there are only twelve different tracks to choose from. Sadly, six of which are just the reverse tracks of the ‘original’ six. This means that by the time you’ve hit stage 3 or 4, you’ve seen everything the campaign has to offer, and you’re only halfway through. The finale does shake things up slightly by mixing all of the event types together in one race which makes for a slightly more interesting affair, but once you’ve done it once, you’ve done it a thousand times – or at least it feels that way.

The other game modes on offer are both multiplayer focused, with Online and Local offerings available. Here we see Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch added to the aforementioned pool of events, but again this isn’t really anything we haven’t seen before, and it quickly grows tiresome when you’ve done it a few times already. That said you’ll need to spend a fair bit of time within the game’s multiplayer should you want to unlock all the different skins and planes available for them, with some requiring a number of wins in online multiplayer to grab that shiny new look.

As for the planes, there are 16 available altogether, each of which comes with a star rating for Speed, Boost Power, Acceleration, Manoeuvrability and Armor. It’s difficult to tell the difference between much of them though, with only the planes three or four stars slower than others really feeling much different. Handling for most planes feels the same too, and it usually comes down to the player utilising the controls learnt in the tutorial, rather than anyone plane being much better than the other.

Visually however each plane is fantastic. The designs are unique and there is even an official licensing of both the Death and War characters from Darksiders, with both characters having their planes included.

In fact, visuals really are the strong point within Skydrift Infinity, with both planes and environments looking rather eye-catching as Ice tunnels and volcanic embers are showcased and really light up the screen. Each stage also contains a scripted yet visually appeasing change on the final lap of a race, such as a rockslide or a falling structure and all of these things not only look fantastic but also help bring a bit of a ‘live’ feeling to each environment. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end for what is a missed opportunity to really shine.

Conclusion

I’d love to sit and tell you about a fantastic feature, or a must-play aspect to Skydrift Infinity that would make you want to rush and buy, and I’d love to be able to praise this game as the must-play underdog flight game of the month. Sadly there isn’t all that much to be excited about. Whilst the visuals are pleasing, even they can’t compare to the other option being presented this month, and that can only mean this one is likely to be forgotten quickly.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Eye-catching visuals
  • Each plane has a unique design
  • Feels like a typical kart racer
Bad
  • Very few environments
  • Experienced everything half-way through the game
  • Planes don't have enough differences besides visuals
6.8
Okay
Gameplay - 6.5
Graphics - 7.3
Audio - 6.7
Longevity - 6.6
Written by
After many years of dabbling and failing in Dark Souls and many other equally brutal gaming adventures, I can now be found in a state of relaxation, merely hunting for a little extra gamerscore or frightening myself with the latest Resident Evil - Sometimes I write about it too!

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