Preview: Ambitious Black Skylands Promises Sandbox Skypunk

Screenshot: Black Skylands

Have you ever been playing Stardew Valley, and been finding yourself wanting a little bit more action? How about some airships? Well, if the answer is yes to either of those questions, then Black Skylands is definitely something you should look into. It’s quite an ambitious title with lots of systems to interact with, including crafting, building, combat and even skyship customization.

Black Skylands is a top-down action adventure game that takes place in a large open world. You play as Eva, adventurer and skyship captain embarking on a grand adventure. Tragedy has befallen your home ship known as the Fathership—and not only do you have to contend with Kain and his violent group called the Falcons, there is a threat greater than warring factions: a growing swarm of monstrosities that threaten all of life in the skylands. While Black Skylands incorporates building, resource gathering, and even social interactions to an extent, most of the gameplay involves exploration and combat, which comes in two flavors: ground-based, and airship-based. Ground-based combat is like a twin stick shooter, while fighting in your skyship is slower and about maneuvering to get a good shot on your target.

Screenshot: Black Skylands

Since Black Skylands takes place in a world where people inhabit the skies, it makes sense that skyships are a focus in terms of gameplay. You can make your skyship to match your preferred playstyle, whether you want a fast maneuverable ship, or a slower one with more damage output, the sky’s the limit. Skyships aren’t only platforms for battle, however—cargo capacity is a consideration. And don’t forget to bring extra fuel along. If you find territory inhabited by enemy factions, you can avoid it—or take it for yourself, and the inhabitants of the Fathership.

Since Black Skylands is releasing in Early Access, that means it’ll actively be in development. Right now, Black Skylands feels polished, and fun to play. According to the game’s Steam page, Black Skylands will be in development for up to 12 months. The developers are hoping to double the amount of content available, and look forward to using community feedback to make Black Skylands the best game it can be.

Screenshot: Black Skylands

I only spent a few hours with Black Skylands, and I’m excited for its future. In Early Access, it hasn’t really reached it full potential—but you won’t be disappointed if you buy into it now, especially if you can’t wait for it to finish its 12 month development time.


Black Skylands is available tomorrow on Steam Early Access.




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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian.
He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.