People around the world seem to have a lascivious infatuation with anything apocalyptic or zombie related. From our television sets; to our books; to our consoles; anything that has to do with the end of the world is now considered pop culture and it has literally become a multi-billion dollar industry over the past the decade. That’s why 2P would like to cover this game: The SKIES, another post-apocalyptic MMORPG that ended up being the funniest post-apocalyptic game I’ve ever played. In essence, The SKIES is a culmination of the Sims (post-apocalypse edition) meets a b-rate foreign film where the characters all come from some twisted Jorgen Leth creation. Just take a look at their Kickstarter campaign video; it’s the epitome of the gameplay and everything you need to know about The SKIES.
The indie game developing/publishing company, Eforb Gamebox are the perpetrators of the creation that is known as The SKIES. Based on an online novel written by one of the game developers: Anton Paramonov, The SKIES takes place in a post-apocalyptic desert environment. Dubbed as trying “to achieve a sense of romanticism” within a post-apocalyptic desert, the SKIES tries to create an in-depth single player meta-narrative within an MMO world. You are the protagonist in this non-linear narrative and like many games before it, Eforb semantically claims that “it’s up to a player to create their own game reality and decide on their own role in it.”
So, let me tell you about my “adventure” in this “romantic” post-apocalyptic desert world. When I first started the game I was given twenty or so points to place into six generic traits of strength (misspelled in the game), dexterity, endurance, intelligence, technology, and luck; sound familiar? Oh that’s right, they are all mirrored directly from Fallout! I placed all of my points into intelligence (a trait that helps with trades, crafting, and NPC interactions) since I’ve never had the patience to analytically try and decipher the best algorithm for a characters success within these types of games and I figured “intelligence” would be a conservative trait to sink points in . After figuring out my stats, it was then time to make my character look like a badass and in The SKIES they all come looking like Calvin Klein underwear models (bulge included). After I finished up making my character look like David Beckham (circa 2000), I was ready to start having some fun, and begin playing the game! Well, sort of…
The first thing that struck me as odd was how almost every screen had misspellings or was grammatically incorrect. I’m not just talking about one or two screens; I’m saying 75% of the written and vernacular content had syntactical errors. It was like I was stuck in a bad dream on re-run where the only people that existed were Ivan Drago and the entire Russian hockey team from Miracle. Principally, the dialogue between NPC’s is exactly like Fallout, except, in this games case, grammar is not a priority. When speaking to an NPC, you are given a few fragmentally confusing sentences to respond to them with. Initially placing my points into “Intelligence” ended up being an ironically grave mistake. Garnering information, trading, and trying to complete any quests was extremely burdensome, as most of the dialogue with NPC’s seemed to be on an endless loop of nonsense that gets you nowhere. The first quest I was given couldn’t even be completed because the necessary resources required to complete it weren’t in the highlighted area on the mini-map.
My experience with The SKIES wasn’t all bad; there are few redeemable qualities that the game possesses. The controls for instance, are very smooth and are reminiscent of World of Warcraft. Moving, strafing, and jumping have a smooth fluidity to them which helps when trying to navigate. Another nice aspect about the game is that the graphics don’t suck and the soundtrack to the game is fitting for a desert environment. It does seem that Eforb Gamebox has placed a lot of resources and man-hours into this game and it’s evident through the large crafting system and the overall layout of the world. But because they are such a small team, they may have been a little too ambitious with certain aspects of the game. It’s almost like they are too many ideas jammed into the game. For instance, the crafting/resource mechanics are immense which becomes overwhelming because there is no linear progression scheme to assist with making the myriad products. Quests are numerous, but finding the necessary NPC’s or materials is near impossible because of the large amount of NPC’s and available quests that are available in given areas. The proverbial saying “too many cooks in the kitchen” seems to ring true here because there is a visible disconnect between what Eforb is trying to accomplish and what is actually being accomplished. The result, unfortunately, is a haphazard product that looks like it started off with a noble ambition to make something new and different but has actually turned into something close to a “money grab” that will be lucky to get out of beta.
The SKIES is set for early access on Steam in the middle of April and they are offering a lifetime membership for the low price of $15 dollars if purchased during the early access period. It’s hard not to see that a majority of the game was inspired by Fallout, as much of skeletal structure of the game is similar to the Bethesda based game model. From the character points system to the NPC dialogue, much of The SKIES is analogous to the Fallout series. The problem though, is that Eforb Gamebox is not Bethesda and The SKIES is definitely not Fallout.