Manticore – Galaxy on Fire is actually the third game in the phone-based space shooter series, Galaxy on Fire, only without any pesky microtransactions and presented on a slightly bigger screen. The controls are pretty decent for the genre, and the game does a good job of keeping the perspective so you can easily know what is up and down. Other than that, I don’t have anything nice to say about this game.
The majority of the missions are simply dull dogfights, which equate to slowly rotating the ship in place until the cursor is inside of an on-screen circle that floats in front of enemies and continuing to fire till their spongy life bars deplete. While some missions add a dash of variety, such as having to quickly fly around to designated areas, escorting ships, or arena style wave defence, none of it is exciting or enjoyable.
Manticore manages to hit 60 frames per second on the Switch, which might be impressive if it managed to stay there. While not hampering gameplay in a significant way, the framerate is far from stable, and you will see noticeable drops throughout the experience. As this is a port of a mobile game, the graphics aren’t all that impressive to begin with, so I’d chalk the framerate issues up to poor optimization, and not the underpowered hardware of the Switch.
The voice acting, writing, and story of the Manticore and its crew are all equally horrible. Characters speak at, not to, each other. The dialogue doesn’t resemble real people having conversations, but instead is akin to disjointed, underpaid and under-directed voice actors stiffly reading their lines for the first time. The story is one of revenge, but it isn’t all that deep, and ultimately has every mission ending in just another space pirate to fight for information or for some other arbitrary reason, lather rinse and repeat.
While microtransactions have been removed from this installment, you can definitely still feel their impact due to the way the gameplay is designed. Repetitive simple missions with some areas being reused multiple times, ships and weapons unlock pretty slowly, and levelling them up takes a while. While I never found myself having to repeat a level for any reason, the game still manages to feel like a tedious grind thanks to lack of variety and dullness of the boring dogfight missions.
Manticore – Galaxy on Fire is so needlessly boarding, I couldn’t imagine anyone feeling the need to purchase a microtransaction in the free-to-play mobile version, let alone paying over $20 for the game without them. If you were hoping for the new Star Fox or Eve Valkyrie, this isn’t it. Instead, it’s the only game I’ve ever played that managed to make shooting lasers in space boring.