Black Skylands’ Sky-Pirate Fantasy Blends Beautiful Art With a Dark Story

Black Skylands Preview

The first thing you’d notice when you step into Black Skylands is the beautiful pixel art with its cute characters. You play as Eva, an eleven-year-old girl who is just excited to see her father who had been gone for a long time, exploring the skies beyond an everlasting storm. You do some chores, meet the townsfolk, run around chasing your younger brother—you know, normal kid stuff. But then your dad finally reveals what’s kept him away for so long, he’s brought a caged monster from the storm, and he warns that they are coming. 

In the next seven years, lots change. Eva is no longer a bright-eyed child, instead, a dark apathy clouds her eyes as she builds coffins for the people that are killed every day. The skies are no longer safe, not only filled with monsters but with pirates taking advantage of the anarchy. Welcome to Black Skylands, and your dying home needs lots of help.

Hooks Ahoy!

Black Skylands is currently in early access but it’s off to a great start. I always say that nothing in any game matters if the gameplay is bad. The good news is that this one’s on a solid foundation. I think one of the best parts about any twin-stick shooter is its simple but satisfying control scheme that is so easy to grasp. Move with one stick, aim with the other. Just moving around feels satisfying with its mix of sprints, rolls, and of course, the grappling hook.

The hook is the real big difference maker here with its incredible versatility. You can grapple onto heavy objects like ships to pull yourself towards it, letting yourself pull off some dare-devil zips from one point to another. Or you can pull lighter objects or enemies to you, letting you kick an explosive barrel towards the enemy or find yourself some much-needed mobile cover.

Black Skylands

The meta-gameplay is interesting as well, as much of the game is based on restoring your broken home, the Fathership. You will need to go explore around the Skylands to find resources that you can scavenge and bring back home safely, but only if you can avoid the pirates who are hungry for an easy payday.

My Wishlist

You know, as all early-access game goes, it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s going to make it into the final cut and what’s going to be improved. So I’m just going to throw a few of my concerns here hoping that the devs are working on it.

Black Skylands

Most of it centers around storytelling. I got to say that the writing feels very rough, characters fall flat and the pacing feels too rushed. On top of that, there is so much dialogue that drags out the bad writing, where everything just turns into a blur of talking heads. The game could really be helped out by some voice acting, and I really hope that is something they are considering since this game seems to be quite story driven. 

But that’s just a small concern in an overall fantastic early access title. As I’ve said, you can have a fantastic game with just solid gameplay alone. Black Skylands is definitely a title to keep an eye on, and if you’d like to support the devs, check out their Steam store page!