Developer: Arcen Games
A PC code for Skyward Collapse was supplied to us
I haven’t played a god game that gave me the same satisfaction I felt when playing Black & White, and while Skyward Collapse isn’t exactly the same type of god game as that, it’s still got an interesting enough twist to make it worth a look.
In a typical god game you’re pretty much free to be whatever kind of god you want to be, but Skyward Collapse takes the god game concept and digs deep to find a unique twist to the formula. Your focus in the game is to keep two warring villages alive while at the same time egging them into battle to score points while remembering to always have the battles end in stalemates. It’s a bit to wrap your head around but the detailed tutorial helps ease you into things.
Before you can even start a game you’ll be presented with a few options to play with such as map types, difficulty, woe frequency, or score requirements; it’s nothing drastic but it’s there. There are a solid amount of maps with different types of terrain that actually affect the units in the game such as a more mountainous area that will force soldiers to move around them or a swamp map that gives bonuses to units standing on hills instead of the water.
In typical board game style, you’ll take turns when playing this game with you receiving two turns (one per faction) and then the AI players will get their turns. Each turn grants you a certain amount of action points to use and the amount of points for an action depends on what you want to do; generating a building usually costs one action point while bringing in something like a god unit will set you back close to three points. Just like in chess, the moves you make should be made with the thought of how it will affect your future of your game, especially when you decide to toss down things like god units. Rounds last 30 turns, but can be increased to 50, and there are 3 rounds in a game so they can get pretty long.
As a god you’ll be able to control what buildings get constructed, what resources you want to have available for each town, and the terrain itself but what you can’t control are the towns themselves. If they have the resources available they’ll create their own soldiers and siege units and it’s up to the AI to determine how it wants to use those units. It might decide to ignore an opposing faction soldier in favor of attacking a bandit and it might not even create a unit even if it has more than enough resources. The only interaction you can have with the soldiers is dropping village resources for them to pick up, upgrading a unit to help turn the tide of a battle, or making all the soldiers in a faction attack the opposing faction’s god if it’s on the field.
Letting one faction obliterate the other will cause you to lose the game and you can’t just peacefully play through the game since there are score requirements to reach for each round. On the easiest difficulty you’ll need to hit 1000 points by turn 30 which means letting the two factions duke it out on the battlefield. Bigger points come from letting them destroy the enemy buildings but the destruction of a building causes that map tile to become permanently unusable by anyone. Even you, with all your godly power, cannot erase that tile to place in a fresh one which means you’re going to have to use your powers to continually expand the map by adding land. Expect to lose quite a few towns which isn’t too much of a big deal since you’ll have many per faction in a single game.
There’s a sizable amount of stuff to pick from with over a dozen buildings meant for resources, a few military buildings, over a dozen god units, and over a dozen extra buildings that give buffs to your towns. In short, there’s a lot of stuff to play with.
If you think you’ll be able to breeze through the game by simply not allowing the villages to make any units or letting them only make the weakest type, then I hope you’re ready for the game to throw a few curve balls your way in the form of bandits and woes. Bandits will repeatedly show up during the game to just mess with whichever faction is closest and they’ll either appear as individual units or with a strong bandit hideout building. Their locations, who they attack, and how the two factions react to them are of course totally random which forces you to think quickly. Woes are the other things that will show up to try tossing a bit of imbalance in your world by doing things such as drastically weakening all soldiers on the field (do I smell an incoming bandit invasion?) or giving all buildings invulnerability at the cost of not allowing soldiers to be built. These woes will last for a few turns before switching out to a new one and they border between being tolerable to downright mean.
What I’ve been slowly building up to is the biggest issue with the game which is the implied choice when deciding how to build the towns. It tells you that there are benefits to restricting resources from a town to stop them from building a specific unit but as games get longer bandits get stronger which requires stronger units. By the end of the game you’re not really going to want to restrict resources from a town and you’re actually going to want multiples of buildings to speed up resource gathering.
For example, if you wanted to create a giant you’d need a seer, ranch, butcher, iron mine, and smithy. Now to build all of those things you’re going to need a woodcutter, carpenter, rock quarry, stone mason, clay pit, and potter. Now that’s just the low tier god unit, the higher ones are going to require a diamond mine, jeweler, moonstone mine, and a sunstone shrine. That’s already more than half of the resource buildings constructed and we haven’t even built the ones required for the base soldier units. When the game says you need to strategize what resources a town gets, what it really means is that you’ll need to force yourself to restrict a single resource from a town just so it doesn’t build whatever random soldier you don’t feel like allowing it to build. It feels more like you’re doing it for the sake of doing it rather than because there’s actual strategy in it.
The game also likes to remind you that the Greeks have a stronger advantage with their military units over the Norse, while the Norse have more powerful mythological units, but I felt that this really wasn’t implemented as well as it could have been. Being able to control the resources a faction receives means that it’d be stupid to allow the Greeks to have access to most of their military units since even some of their weakest can decimate the Norse soldiers and you won’t have access to mythological units for a while since building up enough resources for those types of units takes quite a while. It’s not so much a strategy to not allow the Greeks to build most of their soldiers, but more common sense to not let them.
Now while the game does offer co-op, it’s restricted to LAN matches or direct IP connections. Unfortunately the co-op itself is rather mundane due to the fact that you continue to do the same things you did in solo play, only now there are other players also there. I managed to find some people to play with and it was a total mess at first since you all share the same resources which means unless you all start communicating with each other everyone is just going to be doing whatever they want and you’ll find yourself without resources fast. When it works it works, but I didn’t get anymore satisfaction out of playing the game with a few other players than I did playing by myself since nothing from the solo game is changed. The fact that there aren’t any servers to connect to just hurts the overall package.
The Final Word
Skyward Collapse is a solid game but there’s not much else to do besides replaying the same game over and over on different maps or difficulties. For $5 you could definitely do a whole lot worse, but expect the game to feel like $5 worth of content.
– MonsterVine Rating: 3 out of 5 – Average