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About the Story
Skybreak! is a science-fantasy role-playing game of galactic proportions: explore distant stars, plunder alien ruins, hunt space pirates, collect beetles, slay gods, make out with sorcerers, and punch cosmic evil in its flabby, betentacled face!
1st Place - 2019 ADRIFT Game of the Year Award
Nominee, Best Game - 2019 XYZZY Awards
12th Place overall; Winner, Golden Banana of Discord - 25th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2019)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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I would have been happy to pay for this game. I intend to play through this game many times in the future.
This is a menu-based Adrift game (I strongly recommend downloadable play). Basically, you are in space, and you visit worlds. At each world, you can do exactly one thing before you leave.
However, you may randomly visit the same place again in the future. So if you missed out on something, or started something you couldn't finish, you get another chance.
The game has many stats, almost 20, but it becomes more natural over time. The game is right when it says it's better to have a lot of 1's than a few 3's or 4's.
You can pick abilities, talents (which increase abilities and give you special powers or the ability to unlock a new kind of story), and two backgrounds. The backgrounds drive the game, and decide what your win conditions are. For instance, my character had the goal of collecting 30 stories (from the storyteller background) and also the goal of exploring 10 or so new planets (which is how I won).
For the regular backgrounds, achieving your objective ends the game with no fanfare. There are 3 'special' backgrounds that apparently give a more coherent story (I didn't choose them in my first playthrough, as they seemed more difficult).
Progress is slow in this game, and there is a lot of grinding. Probably half of the links are systems where you can scan with Astronomy or mine with Mining.
But this game uses a lot of the principles that make things like gambling addictive. It has infrequent, random rewards that are pretty awesome, so it kept me chugging through the grind.
Loved it overall, and plan on playing it more. There are a few small bugs (like an option the says "Explore Explore [Planetname]" and a choice I clicked on that didn't have any follow-up text). But these were very slight. Love it!
Skybreak! is a huge space exploration-and-trading game, with RPG elements and multiple win states. You can explore star systems; mine planets, asteroids, and comets; recruit spies; unearth lore; acquire alien artifacts; and collect beetles - among other things.
Skybreak! feels like a cross between Superluminal Vagrant Twin and Sunless Seas. Skybreak!'s setting, method for moving between locations, and text-based format are reminiscent of the former, but it has some of the features (such as lore-gathering) of the latter, and its scope is closer to that of the latter.
That isn't to say that Skybreak! is as large as Sunless Seas. It doesn't take nearly as long to win Skybreak!, for instance. (A few hours, three playthroughs, and judicious use of UNDO got me a nice ending in Skybreak!.) However, much of the reason Sunless Seas takes so long is that you spend a lot of your time moving your boat around on the screen and managing your fuel. Strip Sunless Seas down to its item- and knowledge-gathering aspects and its quest trees, and the scope comparison between it and Skybreak! starts to seem more reasonable. Skybreak! really is huge; I can tell from the few hours I've spent on it that there's a lot to the game I have not seen.
Where Skybreak! surpasses both Superluminal Vagrant Twin and Sunless Seas is in its number and variety of role-playing options. At the beginning of Skybreak! you've got a choice of five species (well, four and then an "other" option), two of ten background characteristics, and three of sixteen talents. These affect your win-state goals (as in Sunless Seas), your secondary goals, and the kinds of tasks you're most likely to succeed with. They really are meaningful choices, too: On my first and third playthroughs I made very different character selections, and those two playthroughs looked quite different. By comparison, SVT has no RPG elements, and Sunless Seas allows you fewer options.
By biggest criticism of Skybreak! is the random navigation. I can see that this prevents players from doing as much grinding, which would destroy a lot of the fun of the game. But it is also frustrating to be presented with half a dozen or more interesting options for a particular solar system and yet only be able to choose one of them before having to move on, perhaps never to return on that playthrough. The UNDO command does mitigate this frustration somewhat, though, as it allows you to try out the different options and then select the one you like best.
There's a great deal to see and do in Skybreak!. If you enjoy games like this, there's enough content to keep you engaged for many, many hours.
I started the game, picked a species and talents, and inherited a spaceship that loved me. At first blush, the gameplay seemed a little choppy because I didn't know what to expect. I went through a cycle of landing on planets, making a choice, and leaving. But after the first ten minutes it started to make sense. Lots of sense.
A Fantastic Sandbox
Skybreak! worlds are hand-crafted. Travel seems random, but it's regionalized. The lore is deep, but delivered in pieces delivered across multiple playthroughs and locations. Every species has its own special encounters and background descriptions. Every talent gives you a different way to win, so you end up with many alluring playthroughs. Planets and encounters are all hand-crafted.
There are two economies in the game. One is with goods, like mined ores. You can buy and sell these in various places, which you might end up exchanging later. The second is with experiences, like tales of adventure. Collecting these tales actually involves hearing them, much like opening a book in the game gives you an actual short story -- it's more fun than I can put into words. There's a third element, Adventure Points, which are awarded and stripped in special circumstances, and important to your character's longevity.
Ship combat is an uncommon encounter, and was a little more confusing to me. You have a heading in the top left corner when in ship combat, which is relative to the direction the enemy faces, such that 0 degrees means both of you would crash head-on if you flew at each other. After knowing that, it became a lot more reasonable. I still considered it interesting to encounter, if challenging to handle.
Just Plain Addicting
I want to stress again how awesome this game is; really give it a whirl. The fact that every encounter is drawn from a list of approx. 4-8 things balloons the replay value when you consider the scope of the game. There are so many sub-goals in this game that crop up as you play. There are so many ways to play and the writing is just fantastic through and through.
If you enjoyed Skybreak!...
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This is version 19 of this page, edited by Mizal on 25 January 2021 at 7:07pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item