ReviewsReview: Airborne Kingdom

Review: Airborne Kingdom

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The world is becoming more and more cramped. Green spaces are becoming sparse and houses, businesses, and concrete are replacing them. Mankind is a virus that destroys everything in its sight, but what’s the solution? Well, we all need somewhere to live and people need to exist in harmony. So, how about we have some literal “blue sky” thinking? Why not use the skies to house people and reconnect every part of the world? This is exactly what happens in Airborne Kingdom, as you attempt to survive in a city floating in the air.

Developed by The Wandering Band LLC and published by The Wandering Band LLC and Freedom Games, this is a fantastic city building resource management title. Fans of Sim City, Cities: Skylines and other city builders will adore the aviation twist in a much-loved genre. You’ll soar to new heights while realising your dreams of building a metropolitan society in the sky.

The fledgling floating city.

Airborne Kingdom feels familiar with some fantastic twists.

If you’ve built your fair share of cities, you will feel right at home when starting Airborne Kingdom. The survival of your people revolves around housing, food, and water. However, you must research technology, create supply lines, and expand your empire. So far, so familiar. Yet, when the twists in the gameplay are exposed, you are taken on a whacky ride.

Unlike many of its peers, your city doesn’t gain citizens by default. No, you must scour the land below and recruit them from settlements. Doesn’t sound too difficult, does it? Well, I beg to differ! People will only join you if they like what they see, and that takes planning and preparation. Placing residential buildings alongside industrial is a big no, no. Also, a lack of food and water amount to poor living conditions and that’s an instant turn off. Therefore, you’ll be spinning many plates in this fine balancing act.

Lift and balance, lift and balance!

Talking of balance, this is a key concept and something that is prevalent in your survival. A floating city is a marvellous idea if you plan things correctly. You have the freedom to build how you want and create any shape or sized metropolis you wish. Subsequently, the fate of your people lies in your hands and poor planning will kill them. If you build a lop-sided monstrosity, it will tilt horribly and your people will fall to their untimely death.

You must expand to succeed, but you must also be mindful of your creation. Moreover, extra buildings create drag and weight and this isn’t good for a floating machine. Not only must you consider food, water, resources, and your people’s happiness, you must also stay afloat. It’s a tough ask especially when you try to form relationships with the land dwellers and explore the surrounding world.

Almost at your waypoint.

Devouring the world like a flying locust.

I loved how the developers captured mankind’s incessant need to devour every surrounding resource. Expansion and exploration come at a cost, and the world below you gets stripped bare at every opportunity. Fortunately, though, the land heals itself and supplies regenerate over time. You’ll move from each location, hoovering up the desired materials before moving on post-haste. The requirement to decimate landscapes intrigued me, but it was also a depressing reflection of our nature. I equally loved and loathed this mechanic and wished the developers weren’t so brutally frank about the situation.

Though the exploration contained stark reminders of our destructive behaviours, it was also beautiful and exciting. Floating across an unknown land was excellent, captivating, and oh, so moreish. Discovering hidden tombs, temples, or long-forgotten civilisations never got old. This was then topped off by finding oodles of resources and a place where you can stop to rest, take heed, and plan your next move.

Unlike other base builders that force you to lay roots and expand, Airborne Kingdom begs you to be free. It’s this open-mindedness and sense of exploration that makes it stand out from its peers! It isn’t perfect by any means, but it offers a little excitement in a genre normally reserved for logical thinking and a methodical approach.

Airborne Kingdom is a thing of beauty, but the UI is sadly not.

If you are a city building aficionado, the UI won’t put you off. However, for everyone else, this busy and complex setup will distract you. Undoubtedly, easier to manage on a monitor, the small icons are hard to make out from afar. Other than this issue, the game looks beautiful! Airborne Kingdom is wonderfully relaxing to look at and the way the city moves and the land unravels is spectacular to observe. Alongside this, the camera angles and zoom function are great, as is the well-designed map. The mixture of earthy and pastel tones adds to the calm atmosphere, and I loved wasting hours in its relaxing world.

This is continued in the light and calm audio. The blend of slow songs and high paced tunes adds to the drama and prevents things from feeling flat. The audio adds to the magic of the gameplay and it was easy to lose yourself in the captivating challenge that unfolds.

Explore and expand.

Helpful hints and one minor issue.

A tutorial may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially veteran gamers. Yet, it was extremely helpful and well thought out. As events occurred, you could turn to the tips for guidance and clarity, which levelled out the learning curve. Alongside this, the well laid out button mapping and responsive controls make it easy to pick up and play. My only gripe is the almost invisible cursor. Something more obvious and striking would have been more suitable while making it easier to play.

Airborne Kingdom is undeniably addictive and there is no such thing as “I’ll play it quickly.” You’ll lose hours of your life by playing the story mode, NG+, or the creative option. Moreover, its tough achievement list demands you return repeatedly to complete it.

Airborne Kingdom soars above its peers.

This is a genre full of behemoth titles, yet I’m bravely going to say that Airborne Kingdom soars above its peers. Its sense of freedom and exploration make you dig deeper and keep playing. It’s an interesting concept that replaces the limitations of space with the necessity of balance and poise. I loved it and recommend you to buy it here! Those land dwellers will envy your mighty creation! Soar above them, keep a level head and make the floating city of your dreams.

SUMMARY

Airborne Kingdom is a wonderful city building title. It has a relaxed pace and gentle learning curve thanks to the great hint system, You must balance expansion, exploration, harvesting, and happiness. Each element is key, but balance and poise are the most important of all.

+ Wonderful graphics.
+ Serene Audio.
+ Well-executed mechanics.
+ Moreish gameplay.
+ Masses of replay value.
+ Hard to put down.
- The UI is messy.
- The cursor could be more visible.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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