Dogfight is a game that has one simple mission – to make an arcade shoot em up that is accessible to all and easy to play. It certainly achieves that by having responsive controls, clean graphics and adjustable difficulty and speed settings to let anyone get to grips with the game.
Upon starting Dogfight, you can choose from four different pilots who handle the same but have their own special attacks. You’ll start off with a bullet shot and a bomb to drop below you but over the course of the game you can swap out all of the weapons for anything else you unlock. What this means in practice is you can have two bullet shot weapons on the go, or two alternative weapons. The key is one can be autofired and one needs triggering but it opens up so many possibilities – especially if you are playing on co-op. Dogfight can be played with up to 4 players at once and the ability to assign different weapons to each player means you can have one dedicated player to bombing and one to attack each area of the screen.
Handling for your sausage bombers is quick and responsive and each weapon can be upgraded by collecting powerup flames as you go. This makes the weapons more powerful with a bigger spread. Points are scored not just for shooting enemies but but collecting the spanners each mini wave of enemies leave behind. Yes, the game is co-op but you can absolutely steal someone else’s points by nicking their spanner before they get to it. Dogfight has nine main stages, each with its own boss. Bosses are well put together with multiple phases of attack. They aren’t overly crazy but require some decent dodging between light bullet hell patterns. You won’t need to graze or dodge tons of bullets too often on the easy or medium difficulties – its only the hardest difficulty where shoot em up veterans will be tested. However, the game gives an interesting twist for speedrunners – you can also tweak the game speed!
Everything runs to a clock in the background and when you complete the game, you are given your overall completion time and as you replay stages, you can improve your total times. You can adjust the game speed to help with this up to 1.6 speed. Suddenly what feels easy, feels far more frenzied and if you combine this with harder difficulties – you’ll be kept on your toes. What impressed me is that even with multiple players, a sped up game and a harder difficulty with more on the screen, Dogfight can keep up with itself. The game takes about 40-45 minutes to complete on your first run but there’s hours of things to improve on afterwards. Getting 5 stars on a level requires a 100% enemy kill and so many enemies pop in and out within a couple of seconds – it requires a deft hand to get there and unlock the ultimate final boss by 5 starring everything.
It’s difficult to convey just how well Dogfight plays but everything just works and clicks with you immediately. It is effortlessly fluid and superbly moreish. As a tip of the hat to arcade shoot em ups, this is easily one of the best I’ve played in recent years. It doesn’t require insane levels of skill to enjoy like so many of the genre greats – this is the best accessible shoot em up of the last few years.
Review copy provided by developer – Dogfight is out now.
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