Posted: December 23, 2013
Have you known a Grandparent or Aunt/Uncle who's house you've been to so many times you can't count. When you're forced to visit them you end up playing board games alone in their cluttered back room. You always find yourself bored. Even though the room is cluttered your relative never takes the time to show you anything they have. When you ask they just shrug you off. Then one day, they pass on, and the family jumps in and starts dividing all the stuff they had in their house and you learn they had a lot of cool stuff. Actually there was a lot to learn and explore, but the place was so cluttered, and your relative never explained much of what they collected.
That's the best way I can describe Skyward Collapse. The single tutorial level gives you a limited/basic understanding of what it's trying to accomplish then sets you out into the world to play god. You find yourself with 2 civilizations, with slightly varied dependencies, different unit types with their own pros and cons, a cluttered interface, and you have to play them both at the same time and keep them from killing each other while they attempt to kill each other.
IMO a tutorial that perhaps took a few levels to complete would have helped this game out a lot. There's no hand holding here and usually I don't like that type of design, but in Skyward Collapse it could have been a refreshing boost in understanding the complex systems in place here.
Also, the building icons are cluttered. Yes, they are divided up into categories, but I still found myself lost a lot of the time. The dependencies between buildings aren't very well explained and I kept backtracking to understand what I did wrong. I played the tutorial level about 5 times. There's just not enough clean design or helpful tutorials to get the average player involved.
I'm also, not a fan of playing against myself. Well, balancing against myself really. You have to build civilizations that will ultimately destroy each other, but you need to build them in ways they complement their destructive potentials into an almost deadlock.
That does sound like a great idea, but honestly it's just a bad execution. I really think this game would have benefited from a little TLC on the GUI and a few extra tutorial levels that would walk you through certain aspects one at a time. The way Skyward Collapse is presented you end up feeling like you're playing a board game, alone, in your Grandmothers' clutter back room.