Ever been stuck In the middle of space with a written off A.I. system losing a dogfight with a bunch of Space Pirates? Does one feel that a band of friendly mercenaries would be helpful? Maybe take you aboard there behemoth of a cruiser and accept you into their fold? Have an adventure or two? Then Manticore: Galaxy on Fire is a fine choice amongst the many space exploration titles on the Switch eShop.

That’s as much of the story as this writer is giving away so… Moving on.

Manticore is a beautiful ode to space-based dogfighters of old, specifically the likes of Lylat Wars, The Star Wars Rogue series and more recently EA’s Battlefront series. Working best on inverted controls, the gameplay is built on half dogfighting via protection and all-out war missions plus collecting Intel and parts towards new vehicles post-mission.

Manticore doesn’t just throw in a story mode just because the publisher pushed it – It really does drive the campaign and adds to the intense set of events

Space Polish

Manitcore: Galaxy on Fire is a beautifully polished game that takes full advantage of system hardware, mostly smashing a comfortable 30 FPS, however this can drop if a large battle is taking place. This occurred only an instance or two so it’s nothing to put players off. The controls make complete sense and are well thought out:

  • R Stick controls the direction
  • L Stick controls the boost/slowdown and dodges
  • R Bumper changes weapons
  • RZ fires the selected weapon
  • LZ fires the homing missiles

Having a shoulder based layout frees up those precious thumbs to navigate oncoming fighters, asteroid fields and fuel plants/space stations. The characteristics of all great space shooters are present such as slowing down to aim and evade, dodging and boosting which all vary the game-play and gives you near endless possibilities.

Other gameplay elements include collecting an encyclopedia of different enemies, locales and tech which builds up quite a lore which this writer was not expecting. The thing is, Manticore doesn’t just throw in a story mode just because the publisher pushed it. It really does drive the campaign and adds to the intense set of events. While it’s not groundbreaking it certainly adds to the experience which is something a lot of space shooters could learn from!

he boss fights come in all shapes and sizes; one boss may have an absorption shield that heals their ship when it takes fire

Hanging Out

Head off to the hangar to customise your weapons load outs, build a new ship and even level an existing ship. The best way to play this is to build a ship around its base stats. So for example: if a ship with a high energy rating, it’s best practice to equip close range weapons to get in and out of the fight. The more a player fights, the more they unlock so are encouraged to crack on.

A really positive point is there is so much content. When I hit 4 hours of fight time I was at under 20% completion. It really is fun to grind through too. The boss fights come in all shapes and sizes; one boss may have an absorption shield that heals their ship when it takes fire. Whilst another boss fight might be brothers that share a shield which means focusing fire on the unshielded chap whilst the other one fannies about for a bit.

Manticore: Galaxy on Fire

As touched on earlier whilst discussing frame rates, Manticore: Galaxy on Fire looks beautiful. 99% smooth with some lovely lighting effects, galactic environments and textures. This isn’t just a knocked up mobile title, the ship design is impressive although more classes would have been nice. You do start to notice similar types after a while. SFX such as blasts and boost blurs look spot on also. There is genuinely not a single bad thing to say about the look of Manticore.

The soundtrack is typical of the Sci-Fi genre and fits in well from its menu Etheral/white sounds to the more engaging battle music. Sound FX like laser bolts, middle fire, explosions, flight etc. are spot on and well recorded with no distortion. The voice acting is also very well done including the various accents and temperaments. Nothing wooden here!

Manticore: Galaxy on Fire is the space dogfighter you have been waiting for on your favourite portable home console. Whilst it doesn’t quite match up to the legendary games of its genre, it’s still a solid and very fun experience with very little to moan about. Login to your eShop account and download now.

Formats: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Price: £17.99
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Deep Silver Fishlabs
Release Date: 19/04/2018
Age Rating: PEGI 16+