I like holidays, who doesn’t? Getting away from it all, meeting new people and discovering various cultures. I truly believe in the old adage that travel broadens the mind. You know what I don’t like? Flying. I’m not scared of flying… it’s the possible crashing that’s the main concern. But aside from the very, extremely slim possibility of a firey plane-crash death, it’s being stuck in the cramped space of an airplane I don’t like at all.
The lack of legroom, the stiff and uncomfortable seats. The fact you have to breathe in the BO of strangers and so on. So as someone who hates being stuck on a plane, here’s my review of Airplane Mode, a game where you’re stuck on a plane.
Airplane Mode simulates all the excitement of being stuck on a flight in economy class… and that’s about it. There’s no story, no goals, just you sitting on a commercial flight. There are two flights available for you to experience. A short-ish two-hour jaunt from New York to Nova Scotia, or if you’re feeling brave, you could try the New York to Reykjavik flight, which is over six hours. Both flights play out in real-time too and no, you can’t save your progress and come back later.
There are some small differences between the two flights, aside from the time. You don’t get an in-flight meal in the two-hour flight, just snacks and light refreshments. But go for the six-hour trip and you can chow down on a meal. On the surface, Airplane Mode sounds very dull, and it kind of would be. But you are given a lot to play and interact with on your flight. You get one of those touch screens in the back of the seat in front that you can use. Get flight info, distance travelled, flight speed and so on. The screen is also how you select your meal/snack when it gets to that point in your flight. Plus, you can watch movies and even a Bugs Bunny cartoon too. All public domain stuff of course.
You have your carry on luggage under the seat in front. Pull that out and it’s placed on the seat next to you. Open it up and find more things interact with. A novel, Against the Grain (À rebours) by J K Huysmans and yes, it’s a real book. There’s a set of Bluetooth headphones you use to listen to the entertainment. But perhaps best of all, these a blank notebook bad a pen you can use to write and draw anything you like. There’s also one of those pocket things in the seat if you’ve ever flown before, then you know what I mean. It houses the safety card and in-flight magazine. Oh, and the magazine is interactive too.
Flick through it and you’ll find a message from the CEO of the fictional airline you’re flying with, articles to read about various destinations, there are even puzzles you can actually do using the previously mentioned pen. There’s also an in-game phone to use. It’s has a battery life and everything. Thankfully, there’s even a USB charger in your bag which can be plugged into the seat and used to top up your phone’s life. The phone itself even has it’s own entertainment, there are a camera and picture viewer, music and podcasts to listen to… all public domain, of course, there’s nothing licensed here.
If you get a bit bored with being in your seat, you could always go visit the toilet. Just click on the toilet symbol at the end of the plane’s aisle and you’ll be whisked away. There are numerous interactions here too. Run the taps, use some soap, pull out paper towels, flush the toilet. You can even play around with the baby changing table. Honestly, there really is quite a lot to keep you entertained on your flight. I only went for the shorter two-hour jaunt, yet I didn’t feel bored and was dragged into all the game offered. But I do think a six-hour flight could get tedious.
Airplane Mode needs a bit more to entice me back to try the six-hour flight. It needs more puzzles as no matter if you try the two or six-hour journey the magazine offers the exact same puzzles. More films, cartoons and so on. It’s all public domain stuff anyway, so it’s easy to come by and use without costing a penny. More games, yeah I forgot to mention there are games to play using the screen thing. Cars games, blackjack and solitaire are available, but what about more? Poker, gin-rummy, maybe some classic arcade ‘tributes’ like Space Invaders, Pac-Man… just with a non-licensed name? More public domain books to read. For full novels to short story collections and classic fairy tales. Honestly, there are loads of free to use/public domain stuff out there to use.
Airplane Mode is a slice of complete nonsense. It’s just a stupid little toybox for you to explore and discover, the fact you’re stuck on a long haul flight is really just pretty set dressing. Still, I enjoyed the game for what it was. With a bit more attention and variety to the entertainment and interactions, Airplane Mode really could be one of those great, pointless, wastes of time games.