The UK, and hopefully the world, looks to be heading out of strict social distancing regulations, and back into normality. The pub might be an obvious first-port-of-call, but if you use your noggin, you will realize that local multiplayer shenanigans are way more interesting – and booze can still be ingested in near-fatal quantities. Fly Together might not be an obvious choice for hectic, drunken buffoonery, but you also thought the pub was a bright idea, so can you really be trusted?
Fly Together is, at its heart, a puzzle game where you need to move people from A to B, maybe to C, and occasionally you begin at D. As an omnipotent air traffic controller, it’s your job to plot flight paths ensuring your passengers get to the right destination – ideally alive. It’s a wonderfully simple premise that can be gleaned in the first couple seconds of play but has sturdy legs (wings?) that carry it beyond that initial dabble.
Controlling your flock of man-made airbusses is a breeze thanks to a myriad of intuitive control methods that effectively accommodate whatever controller combination you want to grasp. Using the analog sticks lets you click and drag planes to their destination, using mostly accurate tracing to ensure your lines are clean and how you want them. Motion controls are where it’s at though, and shine thanks to the simplicity of the core experience. You only need one button, so dragging your planes using a pointer is wonderfully precise, and if calibration goes a bit wonky, it’s a mere second button press away from correction.
Oodles of Content
So the core idea is simple, and controlling the game is smoother than those coarse-looking, but intriguingly silky pebbles you sometimes find – what keeps the game from stagnating? Well, Fly Together is chock-full stages, and those stages are filled to the brim with slight variations on the standard loop. Sure it’s easy to direct one plane to an airport over, and over again. But, what happens when you have two planes, multiple airport types, a third plane dropping in halfway through, a rampaging hurricane, and an unchartered fourth plane looking to barrel through your flight paths like a particularly angry aviatory arsehole? Excitement, stress, and hectic fun, that’s what.
Fly Together is constantly throwing new challenges, or expanding upon the lessons learned in older challenges, to keep everything feeling new and fresh. This is complemented by the progression and objectives system that, similar to a mobile phone game, continuously rewards you with new gubbins to tinker around with. Whether you need to transport several thousand passengers to unlock a new plane or fully complete an island, there is always something to do, and doing it typically unlocks new planes.
Planes in Fly Together are wonderfully distinct – and not just visually. Each one has slightly, or significantly, different stats that make them better suited for different missions. Some have a tiny carry capacity, but passengers board quickly and the plane itself moves like a streak of lightning. Others are hulking aerial busses that take an age to do anything, but transport a small country’s worth of people at once. Based on the specific objectives and challenges in any given mission, no one plane will be able to do everything, so experimentation is encouraged if you want to nab all those gold stars.
I mentioned this was a local multiplayer hoot, but I have only really dabbled in the single-player aspects of the game so far. That’s because even without friends, Fly Together is a worthwhile play experience if this kind of hectic, on-your-toes puzzling is up your runway. If you have even one mate to keep you from your bill, then Fly Together’s potential fun factor grows exponentially. The game goes from hectic to unbridled chaos almost immediately, and that chaos breeds fun. Screaming at Geoff because he can’t direct his damn planes to the airport without crashing into a cliff, or watching my entire team get sucked into a tornado and yeeted into each other, was a blast. Every mission can be played this way, and warps the game’s dynamic something rotten – in a good way.
Bring On Battle Mode
If this was all the game had to offer, it would have been a great game to pick up and play – but Fly Together goes one step further and solidifies itself as one of the best multiplayer games I’ve played in a long time: Battle Mode. Screw flying together, Geoff needs to die. Battle Mode tasks each player, of which there can be eight, to transport as many passengers as possible before the time runs out. The coordinator who does it the best wins. That frantic gameplay takes on a whole new light when it’s a bloody free-for-all. They even tossed in powerups to dial everything up that extra notch. It’s one thing trying to sabotage a former mate’s flight path with your own jets, it’s another entirely when you are lobbing hurricanes in their general direction – cackling maniacally the entire time.
Fly Together manages to maintain a wonderfully charming graphical style throughout. Each island you visit is visually distinct, with unique airport designs, environments, and hazards to further emphasize that variety. Planes are a tad minimalistic but still manage to keep things noticeably different at a glance, making unlocking them that extra bit addictive. The music is also fantastic, with thematically relevant tunes being played at all times. It’s hard to get too frustrated when everything is upbeat and endearing. The title track, however, takes the cake. It’s disgustingly catchy, with lyrics that, once you hear them, will invade your dreams and give you a good chuckle thanks to their tendency to regale you about the game’s motion controls.
Fly Together is a fantastic little game with hodds of content in both single-player and multiplayer. It ties it all together nicely with solid production values and good, old-fashioned, ale-ridden tomfoolery. Puzzle fans should get a kick out of this, and anyone looking for a new conversation starter during a games night should totally give this a gander.
FLY TOGETHER IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to Northplay for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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Forged in the rainy wilds of northern England, I carved a path of mediocrity through generations and genres. My play style is often described as: “optimistically awful”.