Black Skylands - Explore an Open World and Build Your Skyship

Edited by Editorial Team2022-02-28

When it comes to the evolution of game development, the most noticeable difference has been in the growth of video game graphics. So why is the pixel art style still so popular with developers? This is thanks to the low development cost and shorter development time, ease of access for many new developers and how they have a strong focus on creativity and imagination with their story. 

Many developers have created various unique games thanks to these factors.

A great example of this is the top-down pixel-style sandbox action-adventure game developed by Hungry Couch Games and published by tinyBuild, this game is called Black Skylands.

Even though it's a pixel game, it still has a distinctive look. It calls itself a Skypunk game and instead of focusing on a side scrolling perspective, it instead has a vertical top-down perspective, trying to create a sense of hierarchy in order to show the vastness of the sky.

In the sky view of the game, the creators added three-dimensional clouds, a time and weather system, while also including horrific wriggling monsters to create a mysterious Cthulhu-like atmosphere.

The high-definition background and the pixel airship merge with each other incredibly well. The two emphasize each other in a contrasting way, highlighting the vastness and scope of the sky, with the almost insignificant size of the airship, which is the subtlety of Black Skylands' environment shaping.

In the game, players will play the role of a brave girl named Eva. In order to save the world and protect her homeland, she pilots an airship to explore the sky, and fight against Kain's Falcons who are a band of Sky pirates. The gameplay combines sandbox, airship combat including being able to board other airships and attack the pirates on them, and even resource management, blending these elements together incredibly well. In terms of combat, it is mainly divided into airship combat and ground combat on floating islands. 

Some players may feel that air combat is a little more difficult, and with the ship itself being a little small and cumbersome to operate, and it feels like it is drifting slowly. In addition, the angle adjustment of the turrets on both sides is limited, and it will take a while to hit any moving targets. Compared to the battles on the floating islands, which are much smoother. Eva can use the grappling hook to grab edges to move around and it is not difficult to fight if the position is flexible. In addition, the combat system is simple to use making the overall difficulty pretty manageable.

Attacking when on the airships is as you would expect when thinking about pirate combat, with the side as the main attack direction, So it's up to the player's skill to attack their enemy then maneuver the ship to evade oncoming attacks. It allows players to once again experience the power of battleships from the last century or even the previous century! 

The game's RPG-like equipment settings make the gameplay more diverse, and you need to constantly acquire new weapons to enhance yourself, or modify your airship.

In addition to combat and exploration, this game also has light sandbox gameplay, you can build your own air force base, which can be used build and upgrade new airships, and you can continue to expand your own territory.

You can clearly see the other types of media that have influenced the developers. The first thing that came to mind was Hayao Miyazaki's Castle In The Sky and more recently 2K's Bioshock Infinite which also involves airships and a sky city. Giving Bioshock Infinite a beautiful combination of heavy industry and magic.

Black Skylands has appealing skyship and sky city elements and a great gameplay experience. The only thing to complain about is the lack of conflict between the friendly characters. Giving too many people a similar personality and being all too happy to go along with the main character.

There's also something to note that while the creators gave this style of game the nickname of Skypunk, the airships aren't powered by steam but instead powered by fuel. I'm assuming they mean the visual style is closer to Steampunk than the actual practicality of it.

Continuing on this point, the plot and content of this game feel somewhat disconnected. You could easily replace the sky with the sea and sadly it wouldn't change much about the game. There should have been more detail added to really match the goal they had in mind.

Players can still accidentally fall off from the edges, or they can fly back with hooks. Whether or not they lose health depends on how far they fall. A splash animation is made when the player falls to the bottom. This again would seem to fit a sea based setting instead. Having players struggle in the sea or even get eaten by a shark would be much more effective that the penalty we currently have. If the player falls off the airship they just continue to fall until they lose all their HP, which is lacking and unreasonable. And those pirates can be replaced by bandits, the exploration and battle on the islands can be changed to land battles, and those obstacle levels can be changed to cliffs, which also require the use of grappling hooks to play together.

Conclusion: The game uses a lot of irrelevant gameplay. The game is very fun, but its core content, the setting of sky battling, is not deeply reflected. I feel that it is just a skin to add some freshness, but It doesn't mean that the Skypunk element and the background setting of this game are not good. I just hope that there is a better way to show it. I believe this will not affect gamers who still like this setting and the game itself is still very fun to play.

Black Skylands


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