The story of Black Skylands kicks off by presenting an incredibly well thought out intro.
Not only are you acquainted with the young main character, Eva but you are also introduced to all of the game’s mechanics fairly early on.
Kicking Off The Events of Black Skylands
The narrative begins with Eva and brother Aaron’s father, Richard having brought something interesting back with him after a long time away from home. It just so happens that in certain parts of the world, there are creatures that make up what’s called The Swarm, but no one has ever even seen, nor heard of them before. But out of curiosity, Richard then releases the creature from its cage, and as it seems to ready an attack, they quickly shoot it dead on the spot.
Turns out this was the wrong move, as it basically ignited a 7 year war with The Swarm, causing Kain and the Falcons, aka your main adversaries, to literally imprison everyone for their “own protection”… Or so he says. Eva then treks off on her journey to the neighbouring Islands and begins liberating captives from the warring Falcons.
Overall, the narrative is quite interesting. The dialogue is well written and the characters themselves are relatively fleshed out. It’s easy enough to follow, whilst also keeping you intrigued about what happens next. So far so good right? And it does seem to get even better!
Black Skylands is incredibly fun to play, and it looks and feels fantastic! The top-down view makes everything easy to see, and executing that tornado spin thing whilst firing your weapon is just some good ol’ fun. However, it can also be quite challenging. So… Expect to die – a lot!
That being said, I love the lines that display where your bullets will end up, and the longer you hold down the trigger, the wider said lines will become. I also love the ship combat, as it lets you fire cannons from three different angles. Not to mention that Black Skylands also has its very own fishing mini-game… That automatically bumps it up a few marks, doesn’t it?
And saving the best part for last, the grappling hook. This hook is fundamental in traversing the world and really adds to the pure joy of movement. Can’t make a jump? Well, that’s okay. Just leap off the edge and whip out this bad boy. Need a quick escape from battle? It’s got you covered here too. I cannot overstate the superb work from the devs in implementing this simple, yet incredibly satisfying mechanic.
Please Change This!
Now this is where things take a turn! – and oh boy, is it a doozy. To quickly sum up Black Skylands, you go around killing all of the Falcons on the game’s many Islands, and then subsequently claiming them for the Earners, that is your people. But here’s where it goes horribly wrong. After you save an Island, there is a chance, a very good chance that the Island will be attacked AGAIN from the defeated Falcons. Because you know, they just can’t give up without a fight. This then forces you to return and defend the island once more. However, as a game mechanic – this DOES NOT WORK.
So, you go back, wipe everyone out, dust off your hands, view the carnage before you, take a deep breath and sit in the satisfaction of a job well done. Only for you to board your ship, head to the next objective and find out – THE ISLAND IS STILL BEING ATTACKED. On arrival, it’s abundantly clear that every single fallen enemy has respawned. What are they? Zombies? Do they have a portal somewhere? I spent almost half an hour clearing out one small Island – because I had to do it FOUR times! And in the end, I STILL lost the Island! Only for me to take a few steps around, see absolutely no one and be like “There are no more enemies here, this Island should now be considered defended! Right?… Right?!”
Plus, it’s not like you have to secure the Island within a certain time limit. Because no one respawns while you’re moving on it, and the timer stops when you are attempting to defend the current location. This means that you can do anything, even run in on horseback with blue face paint screaming “FREEEEEDOM!” like in Braveheart. Although shortly after, the people will have a semblance of liberty for about two seconds before it gets taken yet again. Then there’s no choice but to either let the Falcons reclaim it for the umpteenth time, or allow them to use it as target practice. Now I understand this game is in early access, but this is definitely something that needs to be fixed – IMMEDIATELY!
The Various Colours of Black Skylands
Now as for the world design and soundtrack, I simply love them both. I’m just a sucker for the way Black Skylands looks, with all the small Islands and cloud animations underneath, or even how those gorgeous blood smatterings pop out when you kill a bad guy. Not to mention all the cool-looking creatures that just fly around without a care in the world. The soundtrack is really nice as well. It has an incredibly peaceful feel to it when you’re on the fathership, only for it to morph into something more upbeat for combat. Both of these aspects really help immerse you into the world of Black Skylands.
Is Black Skylands worth checking out in Early Access? I’m gonna say yes, but be on alert. Only 85% of this game is incredibly awesome. This is unfortunate because the other 15% feels ridiculously tedious with its constant re-defending of the Islands. Then again, you may sit there and be like “Hey! I like the repetitive target practice!” And that’s cool too. However, I definitely think it’s an area that needs to be fixed before this game can truly become amazing.
Black Skylands is heaps of fun to play with its entertaining combat, stunning presentation and profound sense of adventure. The constant Island re-defending holds the experience back somewhat, although Black Skylands could become a real sleeper hit in 2021!
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