SkySaga: Infinite Isles, Building castles in the sky - Games Weekly

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

SkySaga: Infinite Isles, Building castles in the sky

In short: we don't know.” Radiant Worlds, the developer of the Minecraft meets Warcraft first person explorathon that is Sky Saga, is cagey when we ask about how our character wound up burrowing their way through a succession of blocky, floating islands with a pickaxe. But from what we’ve seen, focusing on the backstory here is like going to the opera and using the binoculars to admire the seat cushions. This is a game in which players make their own story.
“For every adventure, the game is cooking up a new world to a Flexible recipe”
That tale begins as your hero is plopped onto a home island a randomly generated base of operations that you’re then free to start carving up to your liking (or, as is the case in our demo, plundering for sheep). The business of (literal) world-building is proudly Minecraft-ian: go to a place, bash up some rocks, go to another place, put the rocks down again. Repeat process ten times for a henge, or 100,000 times for a scale model of Monte Carlo. It’s your island go nuts.


Brick breaker
Crafting is the game’s second cornerstone: kill a bumbling, cuboid sheep and you can loot its corpse for wool, drag its pelt back to your house and maybe weave it into a natty jerkin to sport on your next adventure. Or, if your cupboards are already creaking under the weight of all your ovine accoutrements, you can set up shop and hawk your wares to other players. Radiant Worlds even predicts that some users will form roving bands of smiths, mongers and menswear designers that will specialise in particular lines of goods: hardened survivalists who can weather the cold long enough to chip rare materials out of ice caves, for example.

Cold shoulders
We don’t see any frozen areas in the demo which, possibly for reasons of stability in this early build of the game, is limited to a colourful forest full of wolves, bears and yet more sheep. But it’s here that Sky Saga does the largest part of its grunt work: each new area you set off to explore from your home island (using a magical portal, since you ask) is completely procedurally generated.

For every adventure, the game is cooking up a new world to a flexible recipe: picking a climate, adding trees, rivers, caves and mountains, squeezing in a castle or a dungeon, and then sprinkling everything with various monsters (and more sheep, obviously). It’s pure watercooler gameplay unless you’re adventuring in co-op mode, you’ll never have the same experience as your friends.

Sky Saga has only been in development for a year, and is just now revving up for its first technical alpha. It’s going up against some of the biggest games in the world. But we're cautiously optimistic it’s colourful, cheery and ambitious, and knows just which elements to cherry pick from its forebears. Now if you’ll excuse us, we must fetch more sheep bones for the throne.

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