When you boot up a sequel to a shoot 'em up, you expect some kind of innovative gameplay mechanics. Although Reloaded feels pretty much the same as last year's Sky Force Anniversary, does it offer enough new content to be a worthy sequel?
When I first started playing Sky Force Reloaded, I was hoping that it was merely reintroducing the player to the already established gameplay mechanics. However, upon realising that it's almost exactly the same game, I was quite disappointed. That being said, the tight shmup gameplay where you juggle various tasks such as trying to shoot down every single enemy, rescue all the folks by hovering over them, and emerge unscathed is just as fun in 2017 as it was in 2016. As you play, you'll also acquire a wealth of stars that you can upgrade your ship with. This isn't anything new and even the aspects that you can upgrade are identical to the ones in Anniversary but it's still rewarding to enhance your ship to be an unstoppable force on the battlefield. After all is said and done, it's the same game but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The biggest improvement in Reloaded is the fact that it contains a ton of stages. Whereas Anniversary only had a handful of tropical island-themed levels, Reloaded contains over a dozen lengthy stages that feature a decent amount of variety. One stage even tasks you with completing it without the use of your weapons. However, the environments themselves are rather bland. You'll find yourself flying over plenty of lifeless deserts and rocky lands which gets very monotonous. Although Anniversary doesn't have as much variety, at least the environments looked fantastic. The same can be said about the music. Anniversary's catchy vibes are replaced with more generic electronica in Reloaded and it all adds up to an unimpressive presentation that you surely won't remember.
In addition to the lengthy campaign, Sky Force Reloaded contains a few collectibles that help extend its replay value. The same card system from Anniversary remains but you can now collect parts in order to eventually acquire new playable ships. There is also a list of objectives to master and once you do, you get awarded points to unlock boosts that you can equip. These couple of additional replay incentives are definitely welcome but it just doesn't feel like enough to warrant calling this a sequel.
Finally, one aspect of Sky Force Reloaded is a huge step back from Anniversary. The upgrade system in Anniversary was a fun addition that made the challenge a bit too easy once you upgraded your ship significantly. However, the system in Reloaded is the opposite which is much worse. Basically, you have to constantly upgrade your ship because stages can be nearly impossible to complete if you don't. Don't get me wrong, you need a certain amount of skill. That being said, no amount of skill will allow you to shoot down certain planes that require a lot of firepower before they fly off the screen. Instead, you'll need to grind a lot in order to merely have a chance to take out these heavily armoured ships. As a long-time fan of the genre, this sort of false difficulty takes a lot of enjoyment out of the equation. Simply put, shoot 'em ups and grinding mix as well as orange juice and toothpaste.
Reloaded is a significant step back from last year's Sky Force Anniversary. The added need to grind is a huge pain although the core gameplay is still generally enjoyable and the upgrade system is just as rewarding.
- + Tight shoot 'em up gameplay with rewarding missions and unlockable upgrades
- + Impressive amount of stages to master
- + Objectives and parts add replay value
- - Gameplay hasn't changed at all since the previous Sky Force game
- - Unmemorable environments and music
- - Progression relies too much on grinding