Review : Lost Wing : Neon Space Cowboy

Lost Wing Review

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I don’t think simple games ever really get as much appreciation as they should.  Independent titles like “Hyperdot” offer a simple control style and concept that evolves into a much deeper experience than one could expect.  With every failure there is a compulsion begging you to continuously try again, as if you were transported back into the golden age of arcades.  Before you know it, it’s been several hours, and you need to go to bed.  Netherlands developer 2Awesome Studio and BoxFrog Games brings us a unique take on the genre that has been dominating mobile phones since the early 2010’s; Lost Wing.

Lost Wing is a simple idea that harkens back to the notion of “running” mobile games such as Temple Run and Super Mario Run. The formula is incredibly familiar but offers several twists to spice up the experience. In Lost Wing you control a ship gliding on a twisting and turning track.  Each attempt consists of three lives which you must utilize in order to navigate the perilous neon terrain. Armed with several abilities, your goal is to get as far as you can, kill the boss at the end, and maximize your score so you can move onto the next area and unlock more ships. Overall it is an enjoyable experience, and there are other aspects that lend itself to be witnessed in your living room as opposed to a mobile platform.

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While other running games focus on a three lane concept, Lost Wing gives you full access to the entire track. With a simple tilt of the left joystick, you’ll glide along the track like an amateur ice skater. I found the movement itself to be a tad bit unforgiving, as the lightest press sent my ship careening into an obstacle, losing one of my three lives. I didn’t see this as a problem, just a mere concept that the game wants you to understand.  It’s a precedent that the game sets for you, hoping that you will catch on to it’s rather unforgiving sensitivity. This is a game that wants you to build up skill, and the quicker you understand this, the longer you will go. Luckily you are armed with some other abilities that will assist you in your bass boosted, neon soaked journey.

You are armed with a resource called “charges” and it has a couple of uses. It acts as ammo for your cannon with every single charge acting as a single bullet.  You are presented with moments where you must think about whether you want to blast your way through a level or choose a more passive route. You can choose to weave between the masses of blocks and keep your ammo for later situations.  The charges have a secondary use that enables you to slow down time with the hold of a button. Similar to every game that offers a slow down mechanic, this enables you to easily navigate between more complex instances.  Just like the cannon, you may choose to use this sparingly.  If you do not have any charges, you cannot use either of these abilities.  Although you can pick up charges on the track by heading directly into white orbs that are scattered around the track or by accelerating to a higher speed.

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There is also a multiplier system that makes you think about when to use certain abilities because you could end up getting a lot of points if you time your tactics correctly.  You can even take advantage of the speed up ability thus allowing you to surpass moments of the track that may be slow or devoid of any obstacles.  

Lost Wing has one truly unique trick up its sleeve; ships are constructed in parts.  Meaning that if you happen to clip the side of a block, you lose a wing of your ship. Clip the opposite side and you will be just a fuselage, practically tobogganing down the track.  Interestingly enough, when you lose a wing, controls get a bit tougher when trying to dip and dive. In situations where I have lost a wing and feel that sense of urgency, I am saved by a coveted pick-up that restores my ship back to normal, providing me with both wings once again.

This isn’t the only pickup available on the track. Lost Wing offers a couple of other pick-ups that give you different advantages such as a little drone that shoots the blocks out of the way for you, allowing you to save your precious charges. Another provides you with a bomb that will rid an area of obstacles around you for a second or two. But there are other, more nefarious pick-ups that impede your stride. One such pick-up flips the entire level upside down for a little bit of time, disorienting you in the process and ultimately ending in your slow motion crash.

Oddly enough, as difficult and unforgiving as the game can be, it offers you ample times to collect these pickups when something does go awry. In harder difficulties, these helpful pickups become more infrequent, creating a deeper challenge the more you play the game.

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Perhaps the icing on the cake isn’t just the controls or the crispy visuals, but the original music. As you fly through these levels, the option to change the music on the fly really helps Lost Wing stand out. There are various electronic tracks that range from a more brooding deep tone to something fast and bass pounding.  It’s not over the top, or excessive either, it feels like it belongs in a game like this. Each track also sounds incredibly different, and if you are a fan of the genre it will definitely feel at home.  The music just fits the science fiction atmosphere that BoxFrog Games and 2Awesome Studio built.

As great as this game has been, it does have it’s faults. The learning curve is kind of steep due to the slippery controls. Sometimes the track turns in a direction and it becomes harder to anticipate what is coming next. Most of all, progression is slow, with difficulties and levels being tied to overall player level. If you die a lot (and you will) you will have a hard time getting other ships, accessing new levels, and even unlocking harder difficulties as well as different game modes. Although, to a certain point you have to wonder if this is due to the developer wanting you to earn the next step in this easy-to-play, hard-to-master game that focuses on your patience. Either way, if you are someone who is bad at this type of game or this is your entry point into this genre, it may leave a bad taste.  

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Lost Wing is a simple game that takes the genre that is rather dull and adds a ton of flare. The neon aesthetics really stand out, ultimately providing the game with a signature style akin to TRON and the more moody tones of Blade Runner. For the small amount of issues that Lost Wing may hinder it at times, it’s incredibly hard to beat the price tag of $7.99 USD. Lost Wing is easily a memorable title that showers you in a flood of light, sound, and challenging moments.  If you like the genre and enjoy arcade style games that can be fun for everyone, this is your game.

Final Score : 6

Fun Factor : 6
Technical Prowess : 7
Time Investment : 10+
 Replayability : 7

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[Lost Wing is now available on Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.  A review code was provided by developers 2Awesome Studio and BoxFrog Games.]

By Steve Esposito

Steve Esposito is a dedicated content creator with a focus on his love for technology, video games, and the very industry that oversees it all. He also takes part in organizing the Long Island Retro and Tabletop Gaming Expo as well as a Dungeons and Dragons podcast: Copper Piece. You can find him on twitter @AgitatedStove

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