On the surface, Piloteer is a graceful work of art with beautiful handcrafted environments. Beneath the surface is a challenging physics-based jetpack game that will likely lead to frustration, but in a good way. As to be expected from a game by Whitaker Trebella, also known for his challenging minimalistic games Polymer and Pivvot.
By far, this is the prettiest of games under his collection, with handcrafted whimsical artwork and a dynamic setting mixed with serene music. The environments are filled with different platforms that act as landing pads along with waterbeds. The sky feels endless, which is likely the case if you fly really high.
The best way to describe Piloteer is a Machinarium coat around a game of QWOP, due to its awkward controls. Unlike QWOP, which feels almost impossible to master, Piloteer has a much more forgiving control scheme. In order to control the jetpack, players must tap the left and right side of the screen. Each side will turn on the jetpack on the corresponding side. Tapping both sides will propel her upwards, but tapping only one side will cause her to flip in mid-air. Thus, timing and balance is a key factor in her success.
Who is she you ask? The piloteer is an inventor, proving not to just herself, but the entire world that the jetpack will be celebrated by all. To overcome this negative stigma, you will control the piloteer and perform various stunts and complete progressively challenging obstacles.
There are three environments to unlock with 60 objectives to complete such as landing on different platforms, floating above the clouds for a set amount of time, perform flips, and fly through rings. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. As you unlock new objectives, it becomes increasingly difficult with additional combos and narrow landing pads. It feels impossible at first, but through trial and error, you will get the hang of it.
Piloteer is beautiful, challenging, and extremely rewarding. The frustration is balanced with a relaxing vibe, where each failed attempt feels more like a learning experience towards the end goal. The concept of invention reminds me of a favorite quote by Thomas Edition, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Expect to fail and expect to put in a little bit of work before mastering the art of the jetpack. The piloteer will flail all over the map, but these failed attempts are also quite comical.