Wing of Darkness is a game that attempts to be an aerial mecha combat experience while the story is told in the style of a visual novel. As a mecha game, players will control their Held System in a battle to save humanity. As a visual novel, it follows the story of two squad-mates who develop a strong bond while trying to fight for the survival of humanity.
Such a blend of two styles is not unheard of but the real question is does it work? Wing of Darkness as a mecha game and visual novel works to its advantage but the real problem is that one aspect of it falls short compared to the other. While it’s a great game, wanting to pick it up will be based on which style will one be attracted to.
The Opening Strike
Wing of Darkness is set in a world where war between nations has become a thing of the past. Instead, humanity is at war against an invading alien force known as the Blankers. To defeat them, humanity has created a weapon called the Held System (an aerial-based mech). They could only be operated by a select few humans (based on certain qualifications), who have been organized in a unit called the Frauleins.
Players will take on the role of a pilot as they fight to save humanity. At the same time, the story will follow the journey of pilots Klara and Erika. Told through a series of cutscenes before and after a mission, it follows their journey during the conflict along with the bond they build in these moments of darkness.
I’m going, to be honest; this game isn’t really getting any points for telling an original story. If you have ever seen a mecha anime like Darling in the Franxx or Macross, then you have heard this story one too many times. What it lacks in creativity, it makes up for it regarding the characters and how much you will connect with them.
Journey into the Fog
The gameplay is a standard mecha / ariel combat shooter. Players take control of a Held System and pilot it through a battlefield. Prior to a mission, you will have the choice to customize the armaments of the Held System based on ones preferred fighting style. The combat is standard, shoot the enemy and beat the boss or bosses of the stage. After each mission, players will sit through a cutscene that is focused on Klara and Erika story.
Learning about the gameplay is easy, but it’s incredibly bland. You get to fight waves of Blankers but there is no thrill or excitement in the action. Not helping is how empty the battlefield feels with nothing but mountains, bodies of water and forests (with maybe some structures in a few levels). It’s also not that visually appealing when it comes to the in-game details as the color scheme reflects the overall feeling of blandness.
Wing of Darkness biggest strength is telling a compelling story of love and friendship in the face of impending annihilation. The gameplay and the world somewhat falls short by comparison as it could have been more polished.
From a narrative perspective, the world building is superior as we are given a good understanding of the setting through Klara and Erika story. The cutscenes are long but they get you hooked as you want to learn more about these characters and what happens to them during this war.
Friendship in the Face of Death
Overall, this a game that wants to be both a mecha shooter and a visual novel, and only really succeeds at being one of those things. As a visual novel, it excels at telling an emotionally driven story about two friends in a war for survival. As a mecha shooter, it’s not that exciting and you only want to finish it just to get back to the story.
So, all in all, Wing of Darkness is an emotionally driven story in ok mecha game. Those who enjoy visual novels will be invested in Klara and Erika story during the conflict. Fans of mecha games will not be too impressed with the gameplay and might want to pick it just for the story. The mecha action isn’t bad but compared to genre staples it doesn’t offer enough to veterans looking for a more nuanced experience.
Disclaimer: Clouded Leopard Entertainment provided the game used in this review.