One thing that’s always bugged me about MMOs is that death is rarely final, with resurrection a button press away. Skyforge, the sci-fi fantasy from Allods, has an explanation for it: your character is immortal. Unfortunately, the life of a proto-god isn’t easy, especially when you must cultivate a flock of faithful believers to fuel your growing power.
We’ve been playing Skyforge on PC for a few years now and, although our first impressions were luke-warm, it’s a title that’s aged well over time. Now that it’s made the leap to PlayStation 4, everything seems to click into place, with combat feeling particularly satisfying using the DualShock controller. But does it stand up to an extended play through, or would the novelty tail off?
After throwing some significant time at the console version, the answer is very much like the PC version: it depends. The grind is still there, although there are ways to make it much more palatable. The performance issues and animation bugs still drag down the experience, although that’s mostly confined to the open world. However, for the opening price of free, and with a story mode to provide some lore and light relief as you journey through some beautiful locations, there’s some great value enjoyment to be had.
The premise behind Skyforge is straightforward enough; Aeli, a benevolent greater god, once watched over a peaceful world named Aelion, where magic and technology blended together to create flying cars and sentient machines. One day, presumably after getting tired of all this planetary housekeeping, Aeli decided to get up and leave (likely in search of whatever it is greater gods do to have a good time) leaving behind a bunch of misfit immortals and lesser deities to keep the place tidy.
Other greater gods from other words, noticing that their noble protector had done a runner, decided to invade the undefended Aelion and capture it for themselves. It would probably have worked too, apart from the growing number of Immortals who emerged from the corpse piles and started fighting back. This is the bit where you come in, as a freshly discovered Immortal who’s managed to walk off being mortally stabbed up by those alien invaders.
Surprisingly, the quality check for an Immortal is utterly basic, with anyone managing to resurrect without becoming an undead zombie getting an invite to the club. From there, it’s a fast track to the capital city for training, tooling up and starting the journey from being just another Immortal Joe to a god in your own right.
Ignoring the Yellow Brick Road
Just going off first impressions, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Skyforge’s story is a terrifying mix of badly translated scriptwriting and heavily hammed up voice acting. As soon as I’ve created a character and given him a name, I’m being told that a village is being attacked by ‘enemies’ or ‘monsters’, as if proper names are too much for the terrified residents to handle. Added to that is the terrible lip-synching, as if the words have been translated but the mouth has not.
Character customisation itself is a double-edged sword. Your choices are Human or Human, with a side-order of funky hairstyles and all manner of sliders to adjust body shape and size. On the other hand, you also start out with a decent selection of costumes to choose from, headgear to don and eyewear to pick out. Whichever class you choose, your unique style will persist.
On the subject of Classes, there are three to pick from at the start – a tanky Paladin, healing Lightbringer and frost-flinging Cryomancer – and it’s possible to swap between them at any time. Each class has a series of quests that quickly unlock abilities, with the whole suite of tools available after a few hours. Further classes (and there are several) can currently be unlocked for in-game credits, although it’s likely that packs will appear on the item store at some stage in the future.
That said, the tutorial also gives a taste of power so potent that it sweeps all the classes aside and replaces them with a holy ‘I WIN’ button: Divine Form. Unlocking this ability marks the ascension from Immortal to new god, and opens up endgame content. Reaching godhood isn’t going to be easy, although Skyforge offers a couple of ways to get there.
The first is known as ‘following the yellow brick road’, taking a journey through Aelion’s many Provinces and defeating every single-player Adventure on the way through. The second is to take the ‘scenic route’, playing through a lore-rich and cutscene-heavy story that takes you through the adventures and open-world zones several times, but also does a better job of explaining what’s going on. Choosing the story road can be a little frustrating though as, almost at the end, it gives you a mission to clear out all the provinces anyway, which left me feeling that I’d been on a multi-hour misadventure. After fighting my way almost to the end, it felt like I’d been thrown some coffeehouse-grade grinding just to put a tick in the box.