Skyward Collapse Review

In Skyward Collapse, you are the creator of a world occupied by two antagonists. You build infrastructure for gathering resources, converting them into finished goods and using the finished goods to build military units, but have no direct control over what military units are built by each faction. Players can place additional resources to improve gathering, alter terrain to change the combat modifiers and build mythical units that will buff military unit performance. Over time, the map will expand to permit players to build additional settlements for each faction. But the denizens of this world have free will. They will build the military units that they want and have resources for. Military units will move to attack the enemies that they chose. It was implied in the introduction that they will use the resources in the manner they see fit and worship the gods that they chose but how this is portrayed in the game was not clear. Even mythical units follow their own whims and desires once placed on the map.

In addition to an ever-expanding map, players must contend with the appearance of bandits, powerful units hostile to both factions, and special events that will randomly degrade both factions' performance.

The player earns points for each unit and building destroyed. To complete the Skyward Collapse, players need to create the conditions for each faction to destroy the other's units and infrastructure to generate points, while balancing the two antagonists such that they are able to survive attacks from each other and the bandits that appear randomly throughout the game, without becoming so powerful that they destroy the other faction.

I found the Skyward Collapse easy to learn to play. After a pre-start build turn, games are a predetermined number of turns with 90 turns being the default. Each turn is divided into a build phase for each faction in which the player has a limited number of actions to place resources, alter terrain, build infrastructure, place mythical units or use a range of god-like powers, the only way to directly influence the action in the game. After the build phases, the computer moves and attacks with both factions and the bandits while the player watches the carnage in the ironically named action phase.

There is a short in-game tutorial to give the players a basic understanding of the mechanics and there are tool tips on each button in the menu that explains the effect of each action, including resources and infrastructure needed to perform the action. This is fortunate because there is no in-game reference and the copy I downloaded from Steam did not include any game documentation.

The interface is simple. All of the player's actions are available on a single build menu. Information on units and infrastructure can be seen by mousing over the item. Graphics are colorful and visually pleasing. With the number of different actions available to the player and random factors of terrain generation, special events and appearance of bandits, this game is theoretically endlessly re-playable.

Skyward Collapse is mainly a single player game. There is a multiplayer option available through LAN, but there doesn't appear to be a sponsored server through which to find opponents. I was unable to set up a multiplayer game but would guess that each player would provide the resources and infrastructure to one of the factions but neither player would have direct control over the units in their faction.

As I played Skyward Collapse, I felt less like a powerful, god-like being and more like an arms merchant in a war-torn corner of the world. I was providing the means for the two factions to destroy each other and profiting from the carnage. It was in my best interests to ensure that each side was evenly matched to ensure their survival so that they could generate more profits for me.

Ethical considerations aside, my interest in this title waned pretty quickly. I am a big fan of world building games but the inability to control the faction's actions or directly influence the action was frustrating. Resource generation was slow and availability was difficult to figure out. Resources could be shared between a faction's settlements but finished goods could not. In later turns, game play for me turned into an effort to throw up barriers against the rampaging bandits in a desperate attempt to keep both factions alive until turn 90. It was much more stressful than fun.

Final Rating: 30%. Skyward Collapse is a game with simple mechanics, good interface and is visually pleasing, it's just not a lot of fun to play.