I’ve covered both of the demos for Black Skylands so it was very interesting to the see the evolution of the game in the full release.
The first major change I noticed was the more fleshed out narrative. I still feel like the pacing of the story could have used a bit more work because it felt rushed at points and awkward at others. Overall though, it felt like a major improvement. There is a lot more to the narrative and character development. There’s more nuance now rather than everything feeling brief and one dimensional.
For example, in the demos, Kain was simply a tyrant that came from nowhere and wreaked havoc across the land simply because he could. In the full release, Kain starts out as a very close family friend. An accident occurs that strains the relationship and the swarm attack stresses those bonds even further.
Kain is no longer a one dimensional villain serving as a foil for Eva. He has no ill intent and he is very sincere in his attempts to save Aspyr from the swarm in his own way. His actions may seem extreme and misguided but it doesn’t come from a place of malice. He is more relatable as a character and one could understand why he does the things he does.
The second change I noticed was that the game felt a lot more streamlined. It builds off of and polishes a lot of the mechanics in the second demo. You have a lot of quality of life improvements like being able to fast travel to islands by spending money, transferring items to your warehouse directly from certain islands, and etc.
The third change I noticed was that the combat felt much more difficult. It could be that I just forgot it was difficult in the first place. Memory can be quite fickle, especially as one gets older. The enemy bullets seemed to travel much more quickly and it was harder to dodge the attacks. I could also no longer cheese certain areas with the turret. This made the combat much more challenging and engaging.
There are more changes as well, such as tweaks to unlocking new weapons from crafting, making the mod system more accessible and so forth.
Overall, I found Black Skylands to be quite an enjoyable game. It combines the exploration of an action adventure game like The Legend of Zelda with the combat of a bullet hell. You can build up your base and do some very simple farming and crafting which creates a nice sense of progression and incentives exploration. There is a lot to explore, collect, and upgrade so it’ll give fans of old school games something to look forward to.