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Skyward Collapse

By Kelevandos27-05-2013
Bobfish (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Skyward Collapse

The Defence

Arcen Games
Arcen Games
Strategy, Indie
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Pentium 4 1.6 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 8400
AMD equivalent
2 GB
300 MB

The Case


Ever since the day I first booted up A Valley Without Wind 2, Arcen Games has been my embodiment of the indie gaming ideals. Professional enough to produce full-scale, complex games, but also innovative enough to leave little doubt about the indieness of their creations. This said, ladies and gentlemen, I introduce Skyward Collapse, the most recent release of the studio!

The Trial


One thing needs to be made clear before the reviewing begins – not everyone will feel the way described above. Indie games are something you have to understand, a philosophy of the content being superior to the form. If you do understand this, please read on. If you don’t, you are missing out, but please stay and try to grasp the idea.

Believe it or not, the fellow standing on the lake is Thor - The God Of Thunder!

Believe it or not, the fellow standing on the lake is Thor - The God Of Thunder!

Skyward Collapse is a God sim game, in which we are assigned the role of the Creator. Our goal is to simultaneously supervise two different civilizations, namely the Greek and the Norse. Unfortunately, they have free will and make use of it in the most human of ways – trying to annihilate each other. In order to win the game, you will have to stop them from doing so. Sounds easy? Well, it is not.

Your first thought most probably was – “let’s give them no weapons, this way they will not be able to hurt one another!”. No can do, as there is a third party present– the Bandits, who will relentlessly attempt to destroy our little worshipers. They keep getting stronger and stronger throughout the game, enforcing military development of the civilizations. Everything comes down to balance here – it is fine if units die, buildings get destroyed and so on, as long as it happens to both sides. If one of them gets too strong and manages to wipe the other out – it is game over.

A bandit fortress appearing next to a city is one of the harsher ways for the game to show it doesn't like you...

A bandit fortress appearing next to a city is one of the harsher ways for the game to show it doesn't like you...

Skyward Collapse is a score-based game, points being awarded for pretty much everything we do. But those who want to go for the highscore will need to take a risk and provoke a lot of fighting, as this is the best source for points. There are three basic types of units to deploy – human soldiers spawning at barracks, mythological beings put directly onto the battlefield and tokens - usually empowering the first few humans to reach them. Also, in the later stages Gods will appear with their powerful passives drastically changing the situation on the continent. Each of them has three god tokens, which can be distributed throughout the map, thus gaining limited control over these beings and earning increasing the score.

While the main idea of the gameplay seems complex enough, the devs went further, introducing lots of randomness. The troops move on their own, changing objectives on the go and if you try loading one save data a few times, they will keep acting differently! The gods are also random, leaving the player unaware which ones will spawn until they actually do. And last but not least, there are Woes, - random events happening every few turns, capable of changing everything in a matter of seconds – killing all the units or modifying the landscape. Every playthrough is a new experience, making it hard to become a ready-for-everything God.

The tutorial telling you it is a super bad idea to follow the tutorial... Confusing, isn't it?

The tutorial telling you it is a super bad idea to follow the tutorial... Confusing, isn't it?

In the graphics department, Skyward Collapse is the quintessence of Arcen’s style. The detailed sprites, beautiful, fluent animations and the contrast between the continent and the background – all these create something unique, a game which looks great both on screenshots and in action. The devs conducted a detailed research, especially on the Norse side of the conflict, creating vivid, eye-catching illustrations of many lesser known motifs. And the music...the music is even better than in Valley Without Wind 2. It is so great that even after I stopped playing and got to writing, I still had the game minimized, just to preserve the atmosphere! Big kudos for Pablo, Arcen’s compositor!

The Verdict


I honestly tried to find even one element that could be seen as a flaw on Skyward Collapse. The problem is – it was nearly impossible, as everything the developers did here, they did great, giving us an astonishingly complex game which plays differently every time. The only weak spot would be the time required to actually understand what you are doing. Not everyone will have the patience, but then again, they shouldn’t have picked a strategy game if they don’t. Apart from that, Skyward Collapse is flawless and could be easily recommended to every gamer seeking some innovative, slow-paced, complex gameplay which will take ages to become boring!

Case Review

  • A New Experience: The idea for the game is brilliant and fresh.
  • Meet Your God: We are given a full spectrum of mythological creatures and motifs, a treat for every mythology geek!
  • Let’s Put Another One Here: There is a lot of space for add-ons, like new civilizations or buildings.
  • A Little Cog In The Mechanism: The level of complexity is immense, and the well-implemented randomness backs it up.
  • Stay A While And Listen: The soundtrack is absolutely perfect and the graphics bring back memories of A Valley Without Wind 2.
  • Hard To Take Up, Harder To Master: The complexity leads to a great number mechanisms you have to understand, so the game requires more getting used to than others.


Score: 5/5
This little indie masterpiece will keep you busy for a thousand years.


Skyward Collapse is a turn-based God game with a twist that I appreciate; rather than using one side to annihilate another, trying to maintain balance between the two makes for some interesting and often tense gameplay. However this tension is occasionally decimated by the mixed bag of the soundtrack which can range from beautiful string pieces to what can only be described as ‘elevator music’. Indeed, the game is a collection of peaks and troughs within its wider design. The game sets up its premise with a short comic. For the most part I enjoyed this; it wasn’t too long and I appreciated the humour within it. However the art, whilst not displeasing to the eye, was rather patchy in places. It’s not a similar story for the rest of the game’s art though. Whilst the game uses low tech 2D sprites to represent its units these are hardly unpleasant to look at. The range of units available to you borrows from history and mythology alike.

Speaking of the literal divine intervention presented in the mythological units, you’re able to use mythological figures from Norse and Greek mythology. These are really cool, each having its own unique abilities, advantages and disadvantages, however they are a touch overpowered and can yield unpredictable results without proper forward planning. In the beginning though, the game is very easy to pick up with an in-depth tutorial. However there is a lot to read here which the tutorial itself acknowledges. A skim read of this gives the basics of gameplay and the rest can be learned through play. In conclusion Skyward Collapse is a refreshing and entertaining look at this particular genre though the low-tech design and occasionally atonal sound track may turn some players off.


Score: 3/5


God-games seem to be coming back into fashion, what with the advent of Kickstarter and the growth of various pet projects. Amongst them can be found Skyward Collapse, which possesses an interesting twist to the usual style. Instead of coddling one civilization to glory, you have to maintain a balance between two, which are at war. Skyward Collapse does not work on simple grounds. Though not exactly a triple-A title itself, it does possess much more depth. You create buildings for either faction and watch them duke it out, occasionally adding your own mythological creatures into the mix to provide balance to either side. Other gameplay mechanics make this quite a solid play-style, with a satisfyingly large array of units, each with interesting and diverse mythological backgrounds, to keep you occupied. For fans of mythology, proper historical mythology, you will be very much enthralled as I have been.

Unfortunately, the game suffers from poor production values, and unlike certain, more elegant, indie games, it shows. It is not that it has bad art, but it is inconsistent. Unlike the other recent God-game, Reus, it suffers from the lack of a coherent art design and specific tone - one such example is the starting explanation of the setting which is through a humorous comic, but has serious, dramatic music playing in the background. The soundtrack is not a particularly interesting venture, a serious limitation in an indie game which relies on small but important factors such as the audio. However, if what you’re looking for is a good game, I can recommend Skyward Collapse with a minimum amount of reservation. The developers certainly made a bold move with it and it paid off, marking its territory on previously unexplored genre grounds.

Score: 4/5
Comments (3)
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Posts: 123

@Mokman: I properly nerded out over the mythology on offer in this game. It was my favourite feature, not gonna lie. :]

Posts: 1317

This game MUST have been inspired by the Futurama Episode "GodFellas". ^^


Posts: 53

The amount of gods that are included really do add to the flavor of the game, imo.