Developer: Blendo Games
Available On: XBLIG and PC/Mac via Steam (local co-op only; gamepads needed for Steam version)
Cost: 400 or $8.99 on Steam
When playing Flotilla, I’m reminded of a particular quote from Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. In the novel, a young boy goes off to a military academy and, as part of his training regimen, participates in game that’s a bit like soccer/football in a zero-G environment. The boy displays a particular aptitude for the game, and before one match he tells his teammate, “From now on, you forget about gravity before you go through that door. The old gravity is gone, erased.” This ideology seems particularly relevant when playing this interesting strategy title.
The premise behind Flotilla is that you are a space captain with just seven months to live. Rather than sit around your ship and wait for the end, you decide to set out on an adventure through the galaxy. Beginning with a brief tutorial on how to navigate and move about a combat field that moves into third dimension, the player is then free to explore the planets. When you move to a planet, you will be presented with a situation and, sometimes, asked to make a choice about what to do. Will you help out the intergalactic hitchhikers, or steal their cargo and leave them stranded? Will you turn over your precious cargo to a band of ruthless space chicken pirates, or fight them off? These are just a few examples of the types of things you’ll encounter as you rove about the galaxy. Should you succeed, or fail, in your adventuring, there’s always a new adventure waiting for you as the universe and the encounters in it are randomized every time an adventure is started. This certainly lends Flotilla quite a bit of re-playability as you won’t ever be sure what awaits you the next time you play.
Space cats need your help!
Combat in Flotilla, as mentioned previously, involves not only the X and Y-axes, but the Z dimension as well. Ships fire as they move so before you're asked to input the specific location to which you want a ship to move, you must first decide what type of movement you’ll have a ship make: move farther but have a decreased rate of fire, fire more but move a shorter distance, or have both be somewhere in the middle. After making your movement choice, you then select a ship's destination by first determining the lateral movement (X/Y), then the vertical movement (Z). You also choose which enemy ship (if there are multiple) you want a ship to face. As ships are weakest at their backs and bottoms, you want to position your ships so they face the appropriate enemy vessl and fire upon it from below or behind. Of course, if you’re not careful, you could leave your ships vulnerable to return-fire, so it's best to be mindful of how the other enemy ships are moving as well.
When playing cooperatively, the second player takes control of one of the ships and is responsible for its movement. Thus the two players need to work together to outflank, outmaneuver, and outshoot the opposing enemy forces. Should one player’s ship be destroyed, the remaining player is responsible for carrying on and doing his or her best to still achieve victory. Co-op in Flotilla, then, can be a lot of fun as there’s no greater feeling than taking down seemingly impossible odds as a team. As the game progresses and you get more loot from defeating foes or as gifts from the people you meet, you can upgrade your ships, so there’s even a bit of strategy involved for you and your friend to decide how to upgrade your ships. Maybe he prefers to be a slow-moving heavy hitter while you like to be the quick-strike and retreat type that lures the enemy towards your friend’s powerhouse of a space vessel. Just like Dawn of War II, playing the game with a friend definitely makes Flotilla more fun as focusing on moving and issuing orders to just a few ships while your buddy does the same for the remaining ships leads to a far more rewarding experience.
Flotilla is Geared Towards: The strategy game enthusiast that wants to branch out into new dimensions
The Co-Op Experience: Each player controls one or more ships as they do battle against sometimes seemingly impossible odds