Skyward Collapse turns the god game genre on its head
My first exposure to the god game genre was Populous: The Beginning, a game by the father of the genre, Peter Molyneux. In it you controlled a shaman who could assist her tribe in overcoming other tribes on the map by creating miracles and disasters alike to assert your dominance. It was fun and subsequent games from Molyneux expanded on this idea, with Black & White and its sequel adding a pet whose morality is influenced by your own behavior.
Over the years, the god game hasn’t changed much. The original Populous was released in 1989, yet the premise for a god game is very much the same. Take a tribe, and lead it to greatness. In fact, Molyneux’s new game GODUS is very much the same concept, this time for tablets.
Skyward Collapse has been available for some time now, but I’ve avoided playing it because of the bad taste Arcen Games’ last game left in my mouth. A Valley Without Wind started out with an isometric view much the same as what you see above, but through several design changes and an eventual switch to 2D, the game became a jumbled mess.
A Valley Without Wind 2 was eventually released, supposedly fixing all the problems I had with the original release, but I haven’t downloaded it to try it out since my disgust with the first game left me unsure that Arcen Games could even pull off what they were trying to do.
Thankfully, Skyward Collapse doesn’t seem to have the same number of problems, though I’ve played it after 2 full revisions and an expansion on the way.
In short, Skyward Collapse is a god game combined with Civilization and a mixture of playing chess with yourself. You manage both sides of the board and have to survive through four ages as the Norse and Greeks (the expansion adds the Japanese) pummel away at each other.
At your disposal you can help them create specific units, but mythological creatures such as Valkyrie, Jotun, Minotaurs, and Cerberus are on hand to assist either faction once the game starts going. Creating balance itself might seem like a fickle task until the game starts throwing woes at you, which are like mini challenges.
The first woe is human vanity, where units wander aimlessly around the map not fighting unless they happen to randomly come into direct contact with one another. This may seem like a period of peace for you to level out your building projects, but it turns out to be the setup for a huge imbalancing if you’re not careful.
I enjoyed this game so much when I bought it last night that I stayed up from 1am to 5:30am this morning playing just the tutorial and not even realizing it. When I closed the game and saw the time, I was absolutely amazed. I’ve yet to play the Japanese faction of the expansion, but I immediately bought it after that crazy round.
Overall, I would say this is Arcen Games’ best title since A.I. War and I hope they keep developing these games with interesting concepts. All of their games have been interesting to me, but many of them lack execution and polish that make them feel great. I’m happy to say Skyward Collapse doesn’t suffer from that same problThe game is available on Steam for $4.99. The Nihon no Mura expansion costs $2.99. There are DRM-free versions of both available on the Arcen Games website.