When Airplane Mode was announced, it seemed a fun joke: sit in a virtual aeroplane seat for the full duration of a simulated flight, trying to entertain yourself by watching films, eating plane food, reading the in-flight magazine, staring out the window, and all that. Upon its launch today, it’s something else too, a weird virtual memory of a journey that’s now wholly out of the question. Context, eh? I am just sorry it’s not arrived under its original name, Flight Simulator, though I can imagine why that might’ve needed to be changed.
Airplane Mode plunks you in a cyberseat (a window seat, thank god!) for full simulated flights. Taxi, take off, land, and… largely just sit there. It can take you on a six-hour trip from JFK in New York to Reykjavik in Iceland, or a shorter two-and-a-half-hour flight from JFK to Halifax in Nova Scotia. But without the ‘responsibility’ and ‘paying attention’ of Microsoft Flight Simulator. You don’t even have the minor demands of Desert Bus. No, sit back, put your feet up as much as the leg room in economy allows, and try to enjoy.
Over those hours, you do, y’know, flight stuff. Watch (out-of-copyright) movies and cartoons on the screen. Read the in-game in-flight magazine. Read a book (Against Nature, by Joris-Karl Huysmans). Read the safety instructions. Try to ignore other people. Gasp at randomised events like turbulence or bad wifi. Watch the plane icon crawl across the map. Listen to in-flight announcements from Bennett Foddy, of Getting Over It and QWOP fame. Eat your dinner. Play bad video games. Fiddle with knobs and lights. Spy on other people’s screens through the gap between chairs. Treat yourself to a wee. Stare out the window. Plane stuff. The joke demands mundanity, and it sure seems to deliver. A good joke.
Airplane Mode is out now on Steam for Windows and Mac. A 10% launch discount brings it down to £8.36/€8.99/$10.79 until Thursday the 22nd. It’s made by Hosni Auji of Bacronym, and published by AMC Games.
Some players are reporting crashes right now, mind. Software crashes, I mean.