Developer: Arcen Games
Publisher: Arcen Games
Release Date: 5/23/2013
Rating: N/A (E10+ suggested)
A download code was provided by the publisher for this review.
In my younger days I was a fan of god game simulations. If you remember Populous, you know the kind I'm talking about. You'd normally play as an almighty deity, tasked with leading your people to salvation and rewarding human devotion to you with gifts of abundance and happiness. Skyward Collapse is a god game too, but with an entirely different objective. Part puzzler, board game, and sandbox simulation, Skyward Collapse is the biggest shake-up the genre's seen in years. The best part is that it's all brilliant.
As the Creator, your goal is to create the perfect balance between the fledgling Greek and Norse societies. Both are at constant war and are eager to slaughter each other. You don't really care how many people die, so long as neither side becomes too powerful and crushes the other. While the Greeks have the best infantry, the Norse have better mythological creatures (we'll touch on that in a bit). As the Creator, your only abilities are summoning creatures, building towns, and creating landscapes out of square tiles. You can only influence what goes on in Skyward Collapse's world, a far cry from the micromanagement of similar god sims.
I mentioned that the Creator only influences the world. This is done by creating town-specific resources (like pigs and lumber). You can also build human barracks and various other buildings of war. Each side has access to nine Action points. Building any structure for both will consume one point while more destructive or direct actions consume more. Once you've built the structures, it becomes a hands-off affair. Each side will construct its own random units and harvest the resources you've set up. Units will then go about the map and scout or attack other buildings and enemies. Your goal is to ensure each side has enough resources to keep the war going while making sure neither side becomes too powerful. Seeing the complicated nature of Skyward Collapse yet? It only gets harder from here.
To win the game, you need to guide both civilizations through several ages. Random events are frequent and largely include bandit forts or falling landscape tiles. Mythological creatures, mentioned above, add an extra wrinkle to combat. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. While all are vulnerable, some are more effective against humans or buildings than others. The Creator can also drop pick-ups for both sides to collect, adding resources or unit buffs. When there are dozens of creatures and units on the field, it gets tough to track how many resources there are and what is being used for construction.
The most finicky creatures to summon are the demi-gods. Their presence can severely upset the balance of the conflict, which explains their high Moonstone price. Using them is as risky as it sounds but necessary when large armies come a-knocking. While I would prefer to use Smite or Destroy to take out individual buildings or troops, it's far easier to drop an ultra powerful demi-god onto the field. Like all things in Skyward Collapse, it's all about finding the equilibrium between both sides as much as it is the luck of the draw.
Since the learning curve is steep, you're gently guided in with the Tutorial difficulty. This explains the game's basic and more complex mechanics. The rest of up to you to discover through trial and error. Increasing the difficulty usually adds more bandits and random Woes, various events that will decimate unprepared towns. If you like playing without stress, a sandbox mode is included for your enjoyment.
Skyward Collapse has a hand-drawn art style that looks great with the tiled game field. While the units don't look too impressive up close, I was hardly bothered as I was busy trying to wisely spend my Action points each turn. The music can get a bit repetitive as it mostly consists of a minimalist acoustic guitar. Nothing too outstanding but it gets the job done. The game was rock solid in stability and the UI was snappy and responsive. I'm glad to report there's nothing out of the ordinary here.
Unsurprisingly, Skyward Collapse also offers multiplayer. The intricacies of balancing civilizations multiplies tenfold when co-op in introduced. Everyone else is busy trying to satisfy their own towns, in addition to fending off the increased bandit spawns. While it sounds easy in concept, it's still a challenge in practice. If this all sounds very daunting, you can completely skip the co-op and play the game solo. You won't miss anything.
With the infinite replayability, customizable game settings and tactical depth, Skyward Collapse is a steal at $4.99. I've never played anything quite like it and have enjoyed my time with this unique twist on the god game. If you're curious, give the game a try and let me know what you think. If you purchase it on Steam, the bonus of trading cards might also sway you. It's worth the investment for a very unique title.
+ Ridiculous amount of content
+ Unique twist on the genre
+ Bargain priced at $4.99
+ Co-op can be quite fun
- Steep learning curve
- Better soundtrack would have been nice
Overall Score: 9.0 (out of 10)
Skyward Collapse is a gem of a god game. If you're even remotely curious, pick it up! It's quite addicting!