Comanche is a tough nut to crack in terms of reviews. It’s difficult for me to accurately cover every dimension of this game because it’s a multiplayer focused game, and I was only able to queue into a game with one other player present. It appears that a dedicated group of players congregate in the official Discord, so be warned that you will likely need to join the Discord channel to get the full experience. Comanche is a combat helicopter simulator with four on four team matches. There is a budding single player experience that shows promise, with good mission structure and voice acting, though it only has one chapter as of the writing of this preview. The single player ‘campaign’ did a good enough job breaking down a lot of the mechanics starting off. There is a tutorial but it’s short, you’ll need to play the full campaign to really let it sink in, at least when more single player chapters comes out.
There are three different control setups: a veteran catered setup that simulates joystick controls with full three-axis mouse movements, a “normal” setup with two-axis mouse movements and arrow keys, and a beginner setup with aiming/piloting exclusive to the keyboard. I personally gravitated towards the “normal” setup, although the veteran controls look to have potential. Mastery of the controls will make or break the experience; it is very easy to mark this game up as a game with “gimmicky” controls. A bit of patience can go a long way, and I’ll explain my personal struggles and how I slowly adapted.
Comanche is a game with potential, but it is difficult to recommend at this time unless you are a die hard helicopter pilot, which is primarily due to its infancy in early access. I’ll start off by discussing the multiplayer itself, as it is the primary focus of the game. Unfortunately, I didn’t have too much success queuing into matches, and the Discord itself has been patchy in terms of activity. Nonetheless, I can still touch upon the two game modes: Blackbox and Infiltration. Interestingly enough, both variations heavily utilize the ability to switch between controlling an armed drone and your Comanche helicopter. Blackbox is your traditional team deathmatch mode, but with the added twist that you must harvest each enemy’s dropped blackbox to confirm kills. Infiltration is much more objective oriented as it categorizes players into attack or defense. Attackers have three minutes to maneuver their drones into a building housing a prized macguffin. I was unfortunately never able to get into full matches with completely varied team composition, so I never experienced the true depth at play. Nonetheless, I noticed the stealth, healer, and close quarters tanky archetypes that remind me of arena based shooters like “Overwatch” or “Team Fortress 2”. The way I understand this is that there is no premium currency however, blueprint points are used to unlock new drones and Comanches. I still don’t quite grasp exactly how you collect these points, but it appears linked to playing multiplayer matches. So all-in-all there are some interesting design elements in Comanche that may go unappreciated if the player base is DOA.
The single player is a recent addition according to the developers, and will likely be heavily iterated on over time. So far, chapter one is available and broken up into five subchapters. These missions do a good job at forcing you to get used to flying at certain elevations, aiming at high, perched, and low positioned enemies, and navigating through tight corridors and terrain. Throughout the missions, you are led by your companion pilots to disrupt enemy fleets, collect data or hack terminals using your drone, and otherwise cover for your teammates. This isn’t like Starfox where you see your buddies alongside you or lead escort missions (Thank God!), but you mainly deal with new enemy formations and finding reasons to whip out your drone. Drone sections are mild distractions from the core gameplay where most of the fun is just figuring out where to breach their defenses. The further into the game you play, more opportunities you get to test the offensive capabilities of the drone. However, multiplayer is currently the crux of this exploration. This might be controversial for some players, but death is rather inconsequential, as killed enemies aren’t respawned after the reset. There will likely be difficulty settings added which is something worth noting. That being said, if you really want to, you can trivialize any sense of challenge by running headfirst into danger using your auto-targeting/heat-seeking missiles to take out as many enemies with you as you crash-and-burn in glory ad nauseam. Chapter one lasts maybe two hours, if that, but is mostly enjoyable. There was a crowded section towards the end where I experienced heavy frame drops, but your mileage may vary.
Tl;dr Comanche has potential, but it’s only a matter of time before we know if it will be lost to development hell. I think it may be best to wait a bit on this one.
Comanche is developed by Nukklear
Available on Steam ($19.99)
Reviewer copy provided by developer.
Hellfirebam has awarded Comanche the Indie Gamer Seal of Approval… Still hinges on how quickly the community grows and game updates.