Game: Airborne Kingdom
Genre: Simulation, Strategy, Adventure, Role-Playing
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Epic Store (Windows) Xbox & Playstation)
Developers | Publishers: The Wandering Band | Freedom Games
Age Rating: US E | EU 3+
Price: US $24.99 | UK £19.99 | EU € 21,99
Release Date: November 9th, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to Stride PR
Airborne Kingdom is a city builder with a difference. The difference is that you grow your unique town among the clouds and fly it across a wide-open landscape. The game was developed by The Wandering Band and published by Freedom Games. Let’s have a look at it. And if you’ve already bought it, here’s our guide!
Upon starting the game, a lengthy opening cutscene plays out. A tale from long ago about a kingdom in the skies. The Airborne Kingdom travelled far and wide through the skies sharing their knowledge, culture and tradition. But, alas, many of the people returned to the land over time and have forsaken the skies. So the wonder of being masters of the sky soon became artefacts of a bygone age.
Until now, that is. Re-discovering those artefacts and the mysteries of the ancient civilisations and gaining the allegiance of the great cities on the ground is key to achieving your ultimate goal.
City in the Sky
The ultimate goal is to bring all cultures into alliance once more. To do this, you fly around the sky in your steampunk airship, visiting cities and completing quests. Your primary focus will be to find and unite the other kingdoms. They will ask you to do a few quests, progressing to building a sky port, before, at last, they will be your allies.
On allying with these kingdoms, you’ll get another influx of citizens, of which you’ll need at least 150 by the end of the game. Kingdom’s will also provide their area speciality resources such as coal or wood. I found the story to be intriguing, and it held my attention till the end.
As you build your unique sky city, you’ll need to consider lift and propulsion and maintaining both. But, of course, you also need to keep an ample supply of fuel; otherwise, your city in the sky won’t be moving far at all. You’ll be gathering resources from the ground below your ship. Scouts in planes will fly down and collect coal, wood, stone, clay and forage for food and bring resources back to the ship. I love watching the planes fly up and down to the ship, like little busy ant’s.
Balancing Act, But not in the Usual Way
As with most city builders, you know it’s a balancing act as there is always a need for power, housing, food, water, and other utilities to supply resources to your people. The Airborne Kingdom adds a few exciting mechanics thanks to its sky-high setting, bringing a different balancing act into play.
Cities must be weight balanced. Otherwise, they will tilt in one direction or another, which citizens do not enjoy. They must get a little airsick to I would imagine.
It’s very tempting to grow cities into a complicated maze of paths and structures. But, unfortunately, building your city up results in it getting too heavy without adequate propulsion. Not having enough propulsion will mean that your already lazily-moving town in the sky slows to a crawl.
It also makes resource collection and the mission objectives much harder to complete. For example, exhausting your coal supply in the middle of a desolate area on the map isn’t a bright idea. If you do run out of coal, you can watch your Airship plummet to the ground and explode in a burning ball of fire and an unhappy ending for all.
Barter and Collect Blueprints
As you visit the cities on the ground, you can meet and barter with other clans, combining their knowledge to form new technologies in the shape of blueprints. Blueprints are used for the Technology tree to expand your ever-growing city and keep up with residents’ demands. You can also trade for needed resources at some cities and take on migrants from the clans below, each with distinct wants and desires.
Airborne Kingdom is a peaceful game as there isn’t any combat in it whatsoever. That makes such a lovely change from waging war in other city builder games; it’s a relaxing game. Though that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few stressful moments during gameplay. You see, the first map your start playing on is abundantly full of resources, but the same can’t be said for the other maps.
One is mostly water and little fuel, and the other map is a mountainous range where it is harder to find resources. So, a lot of strategic play takes place as you plan when is the best time to move to another part of the map, with the constant worry of running out of fuel, food or water.
The papercraft map contrasts with the look of the Airship, the art on the map is beautiful. Pockets of resources on the map are numbered, so you know exactly how much coal or rocks are in that patch of a resource. Though there were a few times that I found it hard to distinguish the compass points at the top of the screen as they can become virtually invisible, depending on what part of the map I was on.
With a sprawling, randomly generated map to explore each time you play the game, the map layout is different. Once you have finished the main game, you unlock Game+ mode, and there is also a sandbox mode to build the Airship of your dreams.
Customise the Colour of your Airship
The music is terrific and full of eastern promise, and it’s a fitting accompaniment to the setting of the game. I liked the music so much I bought and downloaded the soundtrack for the game. I love to listen to my Airship chug its way across the sky, and the sunsets and sunrises on the map’s horizon are beautifully captured in Airborne Kingdom. There is also a pretty comprehensive photo mode in the game, allowing you to take artistic photos of your Airship.
At some of the settlements you visit, you can pick up colour pallets. The colour pallets allow you to change the colour of the buildings and anything else on your airship. Being able to change the colour of your airship is a nice touch, I found I used it when the colours of the map clashed with my airship. Changing the colour of the buildings made the airship stand out more on the map.
Airborne Kingdom is a very enjoyable strategy game. It can be slow going at times, especially if your ship is slow-moving due to the way you have built your city. I love the uniqueness of the airship and the added addition of propulsion and lift that you do have to pay attention to. The maps are quite big and there are lots of places and Wonders to discover. With sandbox mode and the Game+ mode, there are endless play options to build the airship of your dreams.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up