When Vertigo Games announces a new virtual reality (VR) title you know it’s going to be of decent quality. Whether it has been developed in-house or merely published by the studio, titles like Arizona Sunshine, A Fisherman’s Tale and Skyworld all demonstrate high production values and deserve a spot in anyone’s videogame library. So with the launch of Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl, can the studio maintain this level.
Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl isn’t a sequel to the original Skyworld. Released back in 2017 as a hybrid strategy experience that blended both real-time strategy (RTS) and turn-based strategy (TBS) gameplay, Skyworld was both brutal and addictive in equal measure. Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl, on the other hand, is a refinement of its predecessor, dispensing with the TBS side of things and focusing purely on the card-based RTS battles.
In doing so Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl becomes a multiplayer focused – almost esports obsessed – videogame, that’s all about building a deck, to fight PvP brawls or tournaments as part of a team. Very wisely though, Vertigo Games has employed an AI system with selectable difficulty levels so that should you find yourself without a human combatant – either friend or stranger – then a match can always be played that’ll still earn you XP and coinage.
Prior to any battle, you’ll want to manage that deck, with everyone starting with the same basic troops – archers, swordsmen etc. – and spells. What’s nice to see is the ability to start customising that deck straight away, thanks to some cash already being in the bank. There are quite a few options available when it comes to expanding that card roster, whether you prefer an aerial advantage, ground or just like mixing things up. Unlike its predecessor, Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl doesn’t offer troop upgrades as such, instead individual units can be augmented with bonuses that provide plus and minus effects.
For example, one will allow a unit to increase its damage whilst reducing its health, or vice a versa. The only problem with this was the fact that the augments seemed far too extreme, with the negatives outweighing the positive. So a 25% damage improvement might be met with a 75% health reduction. So, for the most part, it seems best to leave the troops as they are.
If you’ve already played the original then you’ll know how the battles work. You’ll have four cards in your hand which can only be placed if you have enough mana – indicated on your wrist. The object of each fight is to destroy your opponent’s castle, whilst protecting your own. Additionally, each player has two towers out in the field on their side of the map. Advantages can be gained by destroying an opponent’s tower which will then move the central spawn line closer. It’s a neat little addition to the battle as the tide of war can suddenly be turned should either one or both towers crumble.
The battles don’t tend to be long drawn out affairs unless players really are equally matched. And with 20 arenas to fight in there’s enough variety to keep continual battles interesting for several hours.
If there is a downside it’s that Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl feels like a lesser version of the original. The TBS component added a far deeper, richer strategy element to the gameplay, that did slow the pace down yet made it more methodical. Some players will most definitely like this switch, removing the drawn-out management side making the whole experience faster and engaging right from the start.
On its own Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl plays just fine, taking popular card gaming and bringing it to life for some rather epic tabletop battles. The gameplay design hasn’t changed since the original, just the offering of more online PvP battles. However, should you want value for money and a card-based videogame, then Skyworld is a much better bet.