It’s a genuine shame that we’ve been so disappointed by Hammerfight. It’s a 2D fighting game, the fighting being between Central Asian cultures of warring helicopter and balloon tribes, who fight using buzz-saws and pendulum-weapons that swing beneath their craft.
The first time we encountered it, which was probably a couple of years ago now when it first appeared as an indie oddity, we were charmed by the idea. It was almost too offbeat and peculiar not to love. The problem with it is the idea of paying money for a game that – while very charming and deeply weird – is fundamentally frustrating.
The frustration lies in the control method, which is at the very heart of the game. Your ship is controlled by your mouse, and by circling your mouse you cause your weapon to spin around your ship. Your objective is to get that arcing weapon to strike your enemies, eventually doing enough damage to bring them down. There’s an art to it, so it’s certainly a skill-based challenge, but the mouse-flailing is endless, which forces you to be imprecise. That leads to the game being infuriating and far harder than you might want it to be – exacerbated by enemies being able to go off screen and out of reach. You’ll slowly progress, but not without feeling you lucked out.
When the control method is the entire point of the game, there’s really no way back. That said, you’d be hard pressed not to smile at Hammerfight’s manic absurdity. The flying war-world is beautiful in its way, and you’re definitely not going to play anything else like it soon. This is a classic case of taking a strange idea too far.
Dec 17, 2009
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