Black Skylands, the tried and tested Early Access version

Black Skylands, the tried and tested Early Access version

Black Skylands

In the last few days we have spent several hours in the company of Black Skylands, an interesting top-down shooter in Early Access that debuted on Steam on July 9, 2021. The game, developed by Hungry Couch Games, proved to be a great surprise. The experience offered is in fact extremely varied and what is most surprising is certainly the great sense of freedom that the title gives the player in almost all moments of the adventure. But let's go in order and deepen every aspect in the Black Skylands game.

Pirates of the sky

Black Skylands: navigation in the sky A fundamental part of the Black Skylands play experience is the narrative : always present, well contextualized and able to withstand both the most difficult and the most classic tasks, creating a well-thought-out interweaving between gameplay and storytelling.

The world as we know it no longer exists, humans now live in an archipelago of islands floating in the sky. Here a tragic event will unleash a series of unfortunate events that will lead the new world to face two great threats: The Swarm and the hunger for power of the Falcons, one of the clans into which society has divided.

Eva, our protagonist, will have to find a way together with Aron to thwart the threat of the Swarm and at the same time prevent Kain, at the head of the Falcons, from imposing his deadly game on the free population of Aspya. We will not tell you in-depth details so as not to spoil the surprise, but what you will find is an intriguing plot, which already from the first minutes of the game tries to envelop the user. Different inspirations, from Bioshock Infinite to Mad Max, but what we have seen is an original way of telling a story that does not give up on mentioning some great works.

Solid gameplay

Black Skylands: remember to refuel In addition to the narrative context, however, Black Skylands has also shown us numerous interesting ideas in the various play areas that compose it. Basically, the title published by TinyBuild develops on three different branches: exploration and freedom, shooting phases and management of buildings and resources. Let's start in order.

The first point to discuss is the open world component. Black Skylands offers you a system similar in concept to Breath of the Wild, that is, almost 100% of what you see can be explored. In Black Skylands, almost anything that floats can be inspected and if you are on an island there will be no place where you cannot go to recover resources. On foot or with your own skyship, you can truly be a sky pirate. Following the plot will be essential, but free exploration of the skies is also something the developers have focused on a lot.

The view from above allows you to always have an eye on the seabed below which, in an excellent way, it was created to offer you different scenarios, surprising situations and different exciting moments also thanks to the day-night cycle and the changing weather conditions that guarantee a remarkable situational change. Exploring will also allow you to land on islands under the control of the Falcons which, once made independent, will guarantee you an increase in the free population and consequently the release of some improvements.

Black Skylands: a tablet as a menu The second crucial point of the Black Skylands gaming experience are the shooting phases and the management of the equipment. The game's top-down shooter experience is pretty solid. Frantic, with an excellent variety in the feeling of the weapons and a decent level of difficulty in the clashes, with very difficult peaks related to the boss fights. However, what makes the global experience of the shooting phases truly excellent is the possibility to customize not only Eva's equipment, but also that of the ship, thus offering numerous solutions for the clashes.

In fact, excluding those battles that must be faced by force by ship, even some approaches to the islands can be carried out by hitting the enemies on the ground from the aircraft. It is therefore not a question of a personalization without tangible effects on the game, but rather something necessary at times to be able to direct the hand of the compass in the direction of success.

Black Skylands: you can also shoot from the ship The third and final aspect to consider is the management of buildings and resources. In fact, on Eva's native island, the game offers some interesting playful solutions. The idea of ​​Black Skylands is to include some components that closely resemble Stardrew Valley. Managing constructions, getting food through plantations and trying to keep the island in excellent condition. To do this it will also be necessary to recover and manage resources. If you can produce some "at home" others will be found during your exploration of the skies and then stored in the various warehouses and / or transported in the hold of your ship. What we have found before us is a system that is well integrated into the game and surprisingly satisfying.

To support all this there is finally a respectable technical sector and a truly excellent audio sector. The pixel art chosen is not invasive and indeed in some situations such as the backdrops and the creation of aircraft, the artistic level differs from the canons of this graphic style. As for the sound sector, Black Skylands offers truly high-level music and environmental sounds. The music accompanies the player in the right way by pushing on the drama of some moments and pressing in the right way during the action phases.

Black Skylands surprised us. What we faced is not a perfect game (in terms of cleanliness in some moments and some slight bugs in others), but a very fascinating game. We found the developers' ideas very intriguing both at a narrative and a playful level. The game is not designed for everyone but for lovers of a certain kind of adventures and mechanics. Gathering resources and expanding Aspya's prosperity facilities will be central as well as the most hectic moments. The top-down view took us back several years and despite this we enjoyed running around the skies like new pirates.


Playfully varied Immense freedom of exploration Management of the fulfilling constructions DOUBTS Not a game for everyone Some fights are really tough Have you noticed any mistakes?

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