Manticore: Galaxy on Fire is a new aerial space combat game for the Nintendo Switch brought to us by Deep Silver Fishlabs. When it comes to this particular genre we don’t have a lot of options yet on the Switch so for those of you who enjoy these types of games I’m here to tell you whether Manticore: Galaxy on Fire is worth your time.
The game has a story to it but to be honest it really isn’t that great or memorable. You, the player, take control of a nameless pilot who is rescued early on by some pilots from the Manticore team. Some unfortunate events then take place which forces the leader of the Manticores, Bryce, to hire you as their newest pilot and send you off to look into the event that destroyed his crew. One of the issues I have with this game comes from the dialogue in that you are given text when a character is talking but the actual audio voice over doesn’t match the text. Upon looking into the game more I found that it was originally released on mobile devices which probably explains it. Still I always feel like when I play games that do this why did you bother including voice over at all if you aren’t going to have the characters actually read what is on screen. While the story and characters aren’t very memorable you’re probably here more for the actual aerial combat so let’s talk about that.
The controls in Manticore: Galaxy on Fire are easy to pick up and learn for pretty much anyone I would say. The left stick controls which direction your ship goes in while the right stick gives you control over braking, boosting and rolling left or right. The shoulder buttons control your arsenal with ZR firing your primary weapon and ZL firing your missile weapons. You have infinite primary ammo but limited missile ammo so keep that in mind. There are different kinds of primary ammo and certain ones are better for certain situations like boss fights than others.
As far as ships go there are nine different ones you can pilot with each one belonging to one of three categories and one of three factions. The categories are Fighter, Gunship, and Scout and the Factions are Vossk, Terran, and Nivelian. Depending on which ship you choose you will have different stats such as shield, hull, energy etc. Each ship also has device slots that allow you to equip special abilities like a Cloaking device or EMP pulse. All of these options give you a lot of control and choice on how to approach your mission. Unfortunately while it does offer these options you don’t really have to adapt your playstyle too much as the enemy AI in this game really isn’t great. In that sense the game can be seen as maybe too easy. While I appreciate that the game is trying to appeal to a bigger audience I would have liked a little more challenge for an experienced player like myself.
Speaking of missions these will vary as you play through the game. Your main goal is to hunt down the leaders of the pirate factions and destroy them but besides that you can undertake other missions such as races, escort missions, cargo inspection missions and more. There is also an option to just freely explore the various areas in the game and hunt down lore cubes scattered about. The game tries to give you plenty to do but I did start to feel repetitiveness set in after awhile. I would say this game is better experienced over multiple sessions versus long play sessions.
In terms of visuals and audio Manticore: Galaxy on Fire performs rather well in both areas. Every area in the game looked pretty good to me with lots of detailed objects about. Wreckage from battles past, huge capital ships, space stations and more all contribute to that science fiction setting. One of the features I’ve come to admire in some current generation titles is Photo Mode and I was surprised to find one implemented in this game as well. You can pull this up at any time by hitting the + button on the controller and go about capturing lots of space photos. All of the various ships in the game are well designed and look great as well. When it comes to the audio I already mentioned how I wasn’t high on the voice acting but other things like the sound effects of weapons and explosions sound great. The music is well paced too as it always seemed to fit what was going on at the moment.
While it shows some of its mobile roots, Manticore: Galaxy on Fire makes for a pretty fun flight combat game on the Switch. The game looks great and gives you plenty to do even but there is room for improvement. I’d like to see a more interesting story and full on voice over. The game also needed to be a little more challenging for the more seasoned gamers. Still there aren’t many options for this type of game on the Switch currently so if you can look past these few issues you’ll find an enjoyable space shooter.
*Manticore: Galaxy on Fire is available on Nintendo Switch, Review key provided by the publisher.