Developed By: The Wandering Band
Published By: Freedom Games
Category: Simulation, Strategy, Adventure, Role-Playing
Release Date: 11.09.21
Composers: Paul Aubry, Simon Desrochers
A few months ago, I reviewed a super-chill city-builder by the name of Islanders. Today’s game, Airborne Kingdom, is similar to Islanders, but deeper in both story and strategy. Airborne Kingdom is more of a traditional city-building game, as its gameplay is comprised primarily of resource management and tech tree navigation. It has one truly unique mechanic that sets it apart from similar indie city-builders, but let’s get the review properly started before we get to that.
Airborne Kingdom 2.0
I said earlier that Airborne Kingdom has a deeper story than Islanders, but that’s a little misleading as the latter had no story of which to speak. Airborne Kingdom takes place in a world where a flying city had united all the kingdoms of the world in an age of learning and enlightenment. Then the floating city disappeared mysteriously, and the kingdoms lost touch with one another and the world fell into decay. After years of research, a new flying city has been built. Its purpose is to reconnect the nations of the world and found a new age of prosperity.
So, while the story isn’t super deep, it’s certainly got a compelling backstory. The story advances through small but engaging bits of narration whenever players encounter a new kingdom and complete quests to bring said kingdom into the fold. Certainly, I’m more a fan of deep narratives with relatable characters and grand, engrossing plots, but the writing and story in Airborne Kingdom are well more than satisfactory.
Gather and Grow
At its core, Airborne Kingdom is about resource management and city planning, like any city builder. You collect resources like wood, coal, food, and water to build structures and keep your workers fed like you would in any city-building game. It’s also wise to put some effort into keeping your workers happy not just by keeping them fed and housed, but also by building structures to raise their morale. You can’t build any structures on the ground; all of your buildings must be attached to the airborne city, and they must all have an entrance facing a pathway – so be sure to leave some space to extend your paths.
The Thing About an Airborne Kingdom Is You Have to Keep It in The Air
The airborne element of Airborne Kingdom is the game’s most unique and interesting element. Everything about the game revolves around moving your city to the proper position. Resources are gathered by sending workers out in airplanes. The big catch with that is that the planes have a limited range; if you move too far away from a resource your workers can’t gather any more. Moving your town into a position where you can gather multiple resources is key to keeping your warehouses full – and building more warehouses is vital for building more advanced structures.
Additionally, structures have weight, and your basic city center only has so much lift. You have to build wings and engines to generate more lift to make room for more buildings. Adding too much weight to one side of the city also causes it to tilt to the front or back or left or right. Keeping your town balanced is a factor in your citizens’ happiness; who wants to live on a floating city that slopes too far to one side?
In terms of overall visual design, Airborne Kingdom gets high marks. The architectural design of the city has some variety in terms of building types but consistency in terms of overall aesthetic. I think it loses a little bit of graphical fidelity compared to its PC and other console counterparts, but it still looks pretty darn good, even in handheld mode. The music is very chill and relaxing, fitting with the games more laid-back strategic vibes.
Visit the City in the Sky
I loved my time with Airborne Kingdom. Its main focus is on its strategic gameplay, about which I can find no cause for complaint. However, its other elements are more than serviceable. It has a great backstory and writing, even if the narrative is a little shallow overall. The graphics are very good, as are the visual design and music. The only real issue is that there is noticeable stuttering and slowing when entering construction mode once your city starts to get a little bigger. It’s not a massive problem, but it’s not fun. Hopefully a patch can take care of it. Otherwise, strategy buffs looking for a new obsession should look no further.
Buy Airborne Kingdom
Digital – $24.99
Follow The Wandering Band
Follow Freedom Games
The Switch Effect was graciously supplied a code for review purposes.