I’ll just say off the bat that I came into this game with extremely high hopes, as a guy who spent most of my pre-COVID days on an airplane traveling to gigs or conventions. AMC Games calling the game “Airplane Mode” reminded me of my own song (insert shameless plug here) in which I use the term to refer to a moment of bliss when you’re able to cut your phone off and escape the noise down below.
As much as I grew to despise flying every weekend, I’ve learned to use the time wisely for much needed rest or work completion. This game doesn’t really allow that at all. All I kept thinking about was how many other things I could be getting done instead of playing this game. A few tweaks could really make this a special IP.
Hosni Auji and Bacronym developed Airplane Mode, which was published by AMC, which is a BIG help, as I’ll explain later. The game is described as “a game where you play as a window seat passenger for the real-time duration of a long-haul commercial flight across the Atlantic.” And that couldn’t be more accurate. You’re in coach, and you’re stuck with no place to go for a long time.
I have to add that the very first time I tried to play Airplane Mode, it was riddled with a few game-breaking bugs that wouldn’t allow me to get 3 minutes into the experience. A few days later, those were patched and I was able to enjoy the game. But enjoy is a word that is very subjective.
At the beginning of the game, you choose between two flights; a 2-hour 30-minute flight from JFK to Halifax or a 5-hour flight from JFK to Iceland. The game seems to move in real time, so 2 hours in-game is darned close to 2 hours in real life, unless you take a sleeping pill, which allows some time to elapse. It’s a lot.
Luckily there’s entertainment – The Games screen boasts a whopping two choices, Blackjack and Solitaire, with a third choice (trivia) listed as “Coming Soon.” I went broke pretty fast every time.
You can access two classic movies, at almost an hour each (still not enough to get you to Iceland), and one episode of Merrie Melodies, also known as Looney Tunes; which made me REALLY happy as a longtime fan of Bugs Bunny. Thank goodness for AMC’s partnership with WB. But again, it’s one 5 minute short, leaving you wanting more. While you wait, you can also pull out your phone and listen to real podcasts and music – this is a very cool feature that I’d like to see expanded; there’s a ton of great indie musicians and podcasters who I’m sure would love to have their content included in the game. There’s just not enough to do. On a real flight I’d bring my own books and activities, but there’s nothing personalized about this experience.
I just wish you could load up your own music and movies from your HD during the game, that would actually be pretty sweet. But when you take your second flight, the entertainment options are identical. It’s almost like someone didn’t want you to play this game more than once.
Are you not entertained?
If TV and music aren’t enough, you can make your own fun by dipping into your bag which is stored at your feet, and pull out a sketchbook and pen, and get to doodling. Draw the person next to you, what you wish you were having for lunch (the food options are pretty limited) or take the aforementioned sleeping pill and try to pass enough time to get this adventure over with.
I assumed that something wild or fun would happen on the flight – a loud baby next to you, an argument over wearing masks (this appears to simulate flying pre-COVID-19, so no mask mandates), or even the unthinkable like a hijacking. I just wanted SOMETHING to go down. The lack of events led to me getting unnecessarily hyped over the smallest changes in gameplay that I’d discover, like being able to take off my seatbelt, or to get up and go to the bathroom (I tried to flood the toilet and ask for assistance in the lavatory but that didn’t work). So, the game does a really good job of keeping your expectations low. But dang, this is just…boring.
I’d like to see the devs expand on this game some more, like if they gave you a list of objectives, a la Untitled Goose Game. Bother the person next to you. Get up to use the bathroom 5 times on the flight. Kick a person’s chair… hit the help light too many times…anything. I found myself scrambling to try to find something fun in the game to do, but with no luck.
Airplane Mode might be the most hyper-real gaming experience that I’ve ever had. Unfortunately though, it just captures a super boring part of real life. Outside of maybe actually sleeping, this has to be the craziest idea for a sim I could ever think of. I wonder if they’re working on “Sleep Mode” next. I had just as much trouble synching my headphones to Bluetooth as I do in real life, so the authenticity of this experience is worth commending overall, but I think Airplane Mode is a case of keeping it TOO real.
Add some episodes of Walking Dead, a little bit of Mortal Kombat, a multiplayer mode with a way to chat with other passengers, a few cool podcasts, and maybe even debut some new music through the game, and I’d be interested in a return flight. But as is, Airplane Mode doesn’t make it off the runway. I’d rather fly Spirit.
This review is based on a Steam retail copy provided by the publisher. Airplane Mode is available now on PC.
- Realistic graphics
- Good voice acting
Mega Ran posted a new article, Airplane Mode review: Take off