Dogfighting is a form of fierce aerial combat that’s been around almost since the invention of the airplane itself. It featured intense aerial melees between dogged opponents performing death-defying, close quarters maneuvers in their vicious attempts to knock the other out of the sky. The style of fighting gained considerable notoriety during World War I and even produced a bonafide celebrity of sorts in the Red Baron. Now, from ColePowered Games, comes Six O’Clock High, an energetic and fast-paced game that seeks to recreate at least some of those oft romanticized days of yore.
The first thing you may notice about Six O’Clock High are the wonderful graphics and soundtrack. It has a look that’s a strange mix of retro pixel art and watercolors. It sounds like something that should look ugly, but you soon find yourself loving the mosaic style as the blocky, fuzzy looking smoke behind your damaged plane leaves a surreal trail in the air.
The gameplay in Six O’Clock High is about as simple as you can get. You control your airplane throughout wave after wave of oncoming enemies, as you dive, climb, and dodge around the other planes while you attempt to blow them out of the air. As you progress you can upgrade your plane with new and better weapons, armor (duct-tape?) and enhancements for your gunner in your seemingly never ending quest for aerial glory.
And, well, that’s all there is to Six O’clock High. Enemies come at you from all over the screen and you try and survive. That in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the game has some rather glaring problems that only highlight, and make worse, the rather simplistic and repetitive nature of this type of game.
While you go through the game and gain upgrades, your adventure is quickly halted when you die. The game doesn’t save your progress, and when you die you don’t just start the current wave over, you start over all the way from the very beginning. This also wouldn’t be too egregious if you didn’t also lose any and all upgrades, essentially causing you to start over from scratch each and every time you die.
There are also only a handful of enemies in the game, giving you a very real sense of “been-there-done-that” every time you play.
The controls are also a bit of a sticking point here. While they are simple and intended to be easy to use and learn, all you do is tap in the direction you want to fly, they tend to be imprecise and random. I constantly found myself spinning around in directions I didn’t want to go and I just generally had the feeling of not always being entirely in control.
Six O’Clock High is a game with a great look, a fun premise and a lot of potential. But the idea of starting over from zero each and every time gets old fast and the controls need some serious work. Hopefully after an update or two Six O’Clock High can reach the heights it’s flying for.