Boundless expanses, flying islands, an interesting plot and the development of your own huge soaring ship, the Fathership, all this captivates you in the first hour, and then brings nothing but despondency. The problem with Black Skylands is the heavy emphasis on resource extraction.
Black Skylands is a mixture of many genres. There is a top-down shooter, control of your own aircraft, development of the base with the help of different buildings. The Russian studio Hungry Couch Games tried to combine the incompatible. But the problems of Black Skylands are hidden much deeper.
What is Black Skylands about?
The plot begins with the birthday of the main character Eva. Her father, a cloud researcher from the Miners clan, returned home with a big discovery. He gives her a toy gun, asks her to find her brother and look around on the huge ship “Fathership”, where many people from their community live.
We’ll have to shoot and fly in an aircraft. The training Black Skylands came out comprehensive, but not prolonged. We are slowly introduced to the course of things, tell the story of the world through well-written dialogues, and then there is an “unexpected turn”. When Eva and her brother return to the Fathership, her father presents a hitherto unknown creature to the heads of all the clans. It was non-aggressive, but it was provoked by Eva’s younger brother, for which he almost paid with his own life. The creature is immediately killed, the head of the Falcon society is wounded, and time is rewound for a number of years ahead.
The clans are at war with each other, Eva and her brother have grown up, and their new task is to monitor the “Fathership” and help their father fight the creatures from the Swarm, one of which he brought that fateful night. The head of the Falcon clan, who lost his arm, decided to take everything under his control and control all other factions by force. Therefore, the Falcons fired on Eve’s ship, and the girl wanted revenge.
And from that moment on, the plot seems to disappear. It is expressed to us drop by drop every few hours, and the events that happen to Eve look like: “fly to that island, kill everyone there, vacuum all the corners, come back home.” Nothing interesting is happening. Even the boss battles here are frustrating, and they are needed in order to open the next city and a place where you can buy or where you can bring resources for sale.
The shooter part also does not shine. The weapon has a dispersion, and such that 50% of the bullets from the magazine fly anywhere, but not at the enemy. Why is this even needed? Opponents have a lot of lives, in response they hit hard. More or less accurately and far, only a sniper hits – but there are catastrophically few cartridges for it. The shotgun makes you act aggressively, but rarely allows you to kill the enemy with one hit.
The movein Black Skylands is nice and doesn’t cause any problems. Eva is able to use a hook to be attracted to floating islands, a ship, or to pull something towards her. This can be used both in combat and while exploring the world. But sometimes the hook may not catch or reach the right place, and then the heroine will fall into the abyss. At some points, it infuriates, but you quickly learn to use it, and the device ceases to cause negative emotions.
There are problems with flights on aircraft. Naughty control when cornering is not so bad. The ship swings from side to side like a balloon. It infuriates when, when fired from a cannon, it begins to turn around by inertia. In every battle, you have to put up with this feature and additionally taxi up with each volley.
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Black Skylands problems
The main problems begin when, after training and several introductory missions, we are told that now Eva needs to free all the islands from the oppression of the Falcon clan. The map is simply huge, and flights between some territories can take up to five minutes. And everything would be fine, but the captured zone can be divided into several small islands – and there are enemies on all of them. This is not specified anywhere, and therefore the player must rush on his ship from place to place, kill two or three people and fly to another fragment of the island.
Moreover, some zones are designed in such a way that you need to fly up to them in a certain place, turn off the lock on the gate with a knife switch, fly further and repeat several times. It’s terribly boring, inconvenient control of the ship in a narrow space just infuriates, let alone the monotonous cleaning of small islands from enemies.
When the island is liberated and the enemy forces on it are destroyed, people from the Falcon clan can try to capture it again. What does it mean? Eva will have to fly back to the island she has already recaptured and destroy the enemy there. If she does not make it in time for a certain time, the territory will pass to the enemy and it will need to be liberated again.
However, I managed to catch a bug – none of the islands fought back. After killing all the Falcons on the island, I boarded my ship, moved away, and then, returning, observed all the same enemy forces at the old points.
And then Eva is forced to build up the destroyed “Fathership” with farms, weapons, shipyards and other infrastructure. If the player did not drag resources like Plyushkin from each already visited corner of the map, then he will have to forcibly extract them for each of the buildings. How? Returning to the already visited islands, and running them through the tenth circle, collecting each box by hand. A little later, it will be possible to drag them to the ship with the help of your moth pet, but this will happen only after 5-6 hours of play.
And you can’t miss this monotonous grind. The main goal of the player in Black Skylands is to capture islands and vacuum up resources in order to collect for the next “important” building or improvement of their own ship. And you will not be allowed to go further in the story until one or another infrastructure is built, and a plot item is created in it – of course, also for additional resources.
It becomes even more painful to play when no one tells you where to get, for example, asteroid coal needed for smelting. The player must think for himself that the stones floating in the sky are he. Brilliant!
It seems that Hungry Coach Games aimed at the mobile segment, but something went wrong during development, and they had to go to the PC. A nice picture and an interesting storyline drown in boring gameplay and forced grinding. You can’t miss it, and there’s nothing else to do in Black Skylands. Even every time you exit the game, you are greeted with a sign asking you to leave your feedback on the developers’ Discord server – just like in mobile games.
Pros Black Skylands
- Beautiful pixel art
- Interesting plot twist
Cons Black Skylands
- Inconvenient ship control
- Shooter mechanics
- The plot is hidden behind the grind
- Cleansing the islands