Return to the skies of an apocalyptic planet Earth choked by toxic chemicals, making the planet’s surface uninhabitable. Forever Skies is a survival game about solving the mysteries of what happened to Earth, finding the cure for a deadly virus, and doing whatever is necessary to survive high up in the sky. Collect materials from ruined skyscrapers and towers to create tools and devices as you scour the world in your humble airship.
Currently, the demo available on Steam takes the player through the tutorial-like opening mission. After arriving on Earth the player must scavenge what is left of a research lab in order to restore function to a small airship. Once the airship is complete and you take off into the sky, you have twenty minutes to explore before the demo ends. This does mean that time is unlimited before taking off, so it’s worth it to make every possible preparation.
After arriving at the lab, the player has a few tasks to take up. In keeping track of hunger level, the player is likely to take a bite out of a good-looking sunmelon. Unbeknownst to the player, this sunmelon will give the player a deadly virus, one that seems to have killed the researchers here. Thankfully, after some investigating, finding a cure is possible. This seems like the kind of task that may become a common one on a planet of toxic gases, strange plants, and dangerous animals.
Secondly, there is the matter of finding enough materials to properly equip the airship. Before the extractor can be created to harvest materials from large objects, the player must scrounge the lab for various metal scraps. This can become tedious, but shouldn’t take too long with proper care and deliberation. Once all twenty metal scraps are found, this unlocks the most useful tool, the extractor. While it has to remain locked on the deck of the airship, this tool gives the player access to a plethora of materials by literally shooting clumps of floating resources out of the sky.
The materials gained from the extractor allow the swift upgrade of the airship. A water purifier, an engine, and even a bed can be quickly crafted. With an engine and some fuel, the airship is ready to take off. Unfortunately, this is where the twenty-minute timer kicks in, so keep that in mind. But even knowing that the time is limited, there is something exciting about embarking on the adventure into the strange new world.
I already played through the demo a few times because on the first try I didn’t make as good use of the twenty minutes as I thought I could have. Knowing where all the materials are hidden makes the second playthrough a lot faster, but I made sure to do everything I could before taking off. The first time playing will probably take under an hour.
While the demo doesn’t contain everything that the game will eventually have, there are a lot of mechanics that show promise for how the full release will work. One of the first things you will notice once you look out on the horizon are beeping red lights. Each of these lights comes from a radio tower that has been repurposed with platforms and small structures, though they have been long abandoned. Following the lights leads right to an adventure.
Something else that will be hard to miss are the swarms of moths swirling through the sky. These moths will scatter if the airship gets too close, but that’s not all they can do. You can craft what is essentially a fishing line and lower a lure into the mist. After a short time, the line will shake and if you pull it up you will have a moth on the line. Eating a moth will lower your health slightly, but with little else out there, it’s a valuable resource.
While hunger and thirst are a constant worry, Forever Skies manages to keep a game about surviving on an apocalyptic Earth somewhat relaxing and almost cozy. Cruising through the sky in the airship and watching the world pass by is surprisingly enjoyable. The demo doesn’t have much in the way of actual dangers in the world, though that likely won’t remain for the full game.
Forever Skies is very reminiscent of another classic survival game, Subnautica, the big difference of course being that this game takes to the skies rather than the depths of the ocean. Subnautica has a lot of unique lifeforms, both helpful, harmless, and deadly. Forever Skies’ moths are cute and fun, but I am looking forward to discovering what else might be lurking in these dangerous skies.
Aside from exploring the world, Forever Skies also promises an exciting narrative. One researcher, who supposedly went insane and left writing and drawings all over the walls, is still out there somewhere. It’s unclear if this character will even be a part of the game, but if it’s possible to find them, it will be exciting. Plus, trailers seem to suggest that the player will eventually be able to reach the surface, unlocking far more dangers.
There is a lot to look forward to with Forever Skies, and the demo is a great taste of what’s to come. The full game also promises cooperative play at some point down the line, meaning that these deadly skies can be explored with up to three other friends. Forever Skies comes to Early Access on Steam at an undisclosed time this year. For now, there’s a lot to look forward to.
Matt Buckley | Gamepressure.com