Hands-On Preview: Frantic Flight

I still vividly remember plucking a “Bugmen of Insecta” action figure out of some random bargain bin in the late 80s. One look at the heroes of Drakhar Studio’s upcoming iOS debut and you’ll understand why this comes to mind — Frantic Flight will forever be remembered as the game that gave humanoid space bugs a sleek spandex makeover and turned them loose into the running genre.

The story goes that bug-eyed grunts Dix, Rash and Koll are responsible for maintaining an energy reactor, and the thing suddenly explodes into a fiery supernova. Sounds like a sensible premise for a running game to me! As luck would have it, the gangways leading to their escape ships are littered with all manner of defense systems: electric barriers, combat droids, spikes, disappearing platforms, buzz saws, the works. Choosing one of these unlucky space bugs – each has different jumping, health and speed stats – the player sets off on a level-by-level flight that earns the game its title.

It may sound like your average runner with a kooky backstory tacked on, but Frantic Flight does bring something very interesting to the table. Drakhar take full advantage of the third dimension in this Unity-powered title by dynamically shifting between side-scrolling and an over-the-shoulder perspective. Each perspective brings with it separate controls and actions. While the player’s runner is presented in side-scrolling perspective the focus remains on jumping over and rolling under deadly traps; over-the-shoulder segments remove jumping and force the player to make snap decisions about which lane is the lesser evil. Hilariously, the bug runner will literally splat against sliding panels and ill-chosen gates, and by the time he recovers, the supernova will have closed some of the precious gap between itself and the player’s back. Like many runners before it, Frantic Flight plots the player’s and the supernova’s positions on a distance ruler to provide feedback in real-time. The beta build we played also makes of use of an intense heartbeat sound effect that’ll get your own ticker going pitter-pat.

The Spanish-inclined can find out more about Drakhar Studio via their websiteTwitter feed, and Facebook page. But this team isn’t one to shy away from English, so rest assured we’ll have an interview down the line. In the meantime, check out some gameplay footage from their YouTube channel: