Skyworld is a turn-based strategy game with real-time battle elements from Vertigo Games, the studio behind the highly popular VR zombie shooter, Arizona Sunshine. First revealed at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) back in 2015, the game showed a lot of promise and became one of the more highly anticipated VR games of this year.
Vertigo Games along with Wolfdog Interactive has now released Skyworld on Steam for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, with a $39.99 price tag. Though you can get it with the 25% launch discount (if you hurry), putting it at $29.99 until October 24. I gave Skyworld a try using a Vive and found the game to be very pleasing visually and the strategy elements to have been very well optimized for VR.
Check out my gameplay video below if you like:
All of the gameplay in Skyworld takes place on a big round table that you can grab to turn, or drag higher or lower (if you’re fun size like me). So on every table there’s a ‘skyworld’ that needs protection from vile demons if you’re playing the single-player campaign or skirmish modes, or a violent battle for territory between two kingdoms if you’re playing the multiplayer mode.
Each map looks basically the same, with a huge mountain in the middle and two opposing territories with some claimable land in between. Starting off, I built some resource generating buildings and stocked them with workers as is standard for a strategy title. Then I had to quickly start managing these resources, which I did by visiting the castle, blacksmith, and laboratory. Each location could be visited with the flick of a switch which would then flip the table over to show the inside of each building. The user interface in Skyworld is very intuitive and user-friendly which is a bonus in a game like this one where you’re working with it a lot.
The gameplay, as stated earlier is turn-based. So you can complete everything you want to – or can – do in your turn and when you push a button to say you’re ready, the enemy then completes his turn. Luckily in the single-player mode, the AI takes like a couple of seconds to complete its turn. The multiplayer mode is a different story. However, the gameplay is still relatively fast-paced. Each turn brings about a new season as well. Though I didn’t get the sense that this mechanic had any meaningful impact besides simulating a progression of time and being visually pleasant.
A Lot of Core Mechanics Mingled Into One Game
The single-player campaign did an okay job at showing me how everything works but I would have liked just a tad more info on the resource management part. Or at least the option for a more advanced introduction. Since I always seemed to either keep running out of resources or workers. Though some people do love figuring out the more advanced micromanagement mechanics for themselves. You can’t ‘make’ new workers in the game (get your mind out of the gutter) since it relies on a ‘happiness’ scale to determine if new workers arrive after every turn. But it was pretty hard to keep workers happy while still generating enough resources while generating a tax income, and trying to expand my territory through war. Which brings me to the next part. The combat.
Unlike the other gameplay elements in Skyworld, once you enter combat – which is done by placing your general on an enemy general or building – everything happens in real time. The table flips again to show a closeup of the map this time with me on one side and the enemy on the other, each with our ‘castle’. I could then choose from a deck of cards with units on them to place anywhere on the map on my side. Where and how I placed them determined where they would go. Which is significant because the maps usually have two or three lanes with certain marker points that act as extra defenses to whomever’s units walked over it last.
Let’s Rush That Castle!
What cards my deck contained was based solely on which units I had researched at the laboratory. I could also have upgraded them at the blacksmith to add to their hit points and attack damage. Looking at my hand, I had 5 cards to choose from each time and much like in the popular mobile tower rush game, Clash Royale, my hand would keep being replenished with more units to send. Given I had enough mana to send the chosen card. As far as I could tell, my mana would replenish faster if I had gained more ground over my enemy but either way it still generated at a pretty steady pace. That doesn’t mean the battles weren’t challenging though.
Overall, I really enjoyed the gameplay mechanics of Skyworld, even though they are very simplified compared to major strategy games like Age of Empires or Starcraft. So I really hope that the development team adds some more depth in future updates. Although, this game makes perfect sense for the VR medium since it allows for quick gaming sessions with a lot to do and keep track of in that time. Meaning you’ll be hard-pressed to say you’re bored whenever entering a game of Skyworld!