A Paladin's Steam Review: Skyward CollapseOverall Gameplay Thoughts
Skyward Collapse is a combination of turn-based strategy and god game elements. Where your goal is to keep two factions in a balanced war while building up the continent they exist on. If one side takes out the other, it's game over. The trick to accomplishing balance is that you have no direct control over the faction's actions, there are independent factions and cataclysmic events that can change the landscape.
You don’t have direct control over the units in the game but you can influence each faction and their actions. Each turn you can create land tiles, military/resource buildings and semi-direct the flow of the game. While you might think "just turtle/don’t build units and you’ll achieve easy balance", well, Skyward Collapse won't let you. You have to achieve certain point goals every X turns or you'll fail the game. And you only get points through units/buildings being destroyed. Expect units and buildings to die. A lot. You’ll need to keep producing more buildings and units for each side to kill. Keeping this balanced is exceptionally tricky, especially when chaotic forces intervene. Just so you know, you do have some direct actions you can take such as smiting buildings or putting down a way point that the faction may or may not respond to. So you’re not completely helpless. Learning Curve
The game has a fairly difficult learning curve to it, though it’s not TOO dense. There is a tutorial which can introduce you into the game and give you a good idea of what’s what. But you’ll have to figure out several tech trees, which buildings are important and what units are most effective towards your goals. Additionally, each faction has a distinctive personality with their strengths and weaknesses to understand. The UI is great with displaying information but the amount of information can be overwhelming at times. The game itself can be chaotic with the neutral factions spawning their units and Woes creating widely variable situations (think plagues or earthquakes splitting the lands). There is a LOT of content in this game and learning it will take a decent amount of time. You’ll be playing a few maps to really get your head around it. PC Settings & Multiplayer
V-Sync, resolutions, audio sliders and mouse options (edge-scrolling, speed, etc) are here. There isn’t any important settings missing. Skyward Collapse is very stable, having no visible bugs or crashing problems. The Cooperative aspect in this game is ok but it feels a bit bare-boned. All your friend(s) can do is be a creator and try to keep things in balance with you. The soundtrack has a mellow piano and guitar setup, keeping you relaxed even in the most intense/frustrating situations you'll often find yourself in. While it isn't the most distinctive of the soundtracks Pablo Vega has made, it works very well for this game.
Additionally, you have a lot of options to change how easy or difficult the game can be. You can increase how Woe's (special events) impact the game, how stringent the score requirement per round will be and how many turns you must survive in order to succeed. Final Thoughts
Skyward Sword is one of Arcen's more intriguing and, in my opinion, well executed experiments. The combination of god game & turn based strategy works very well. I really enjoyed building up cities and seeing armies fighting it out while I watched from above. The flow of the game will swing one way to the next as events happen, really giving me that “one more turn” craving. While not having direct control made me feel a bit passive or understandably frustrated when things go horribly wrong, it’s still a lot of fun. You should also pick up the DLC for the complete experience as it gives you another mechanic to win the game and the Japanese faction to really spices things up. Skyward Collapse is a definite recommendation from me. Original Blog Post