Sky Ocean review
Sky Ocean is a Facebook game from Tyler Projects — though the game is still listed under its old name Battle Stations on the developer’s website. The game has been around in one form or another since 2007, when it was apparently the first game on Facebook to include fully-animated battle sequences, but it is now in its third major version.
Sky Ocean is a role-playing game that casts players in the role of an airship pilot. In the game’s intro, the player’s ship is destroyed, and they are tasked with delivering an important package that their assailants were trying to get their hands on. The initial stages of the game are spent building up the player’s abilities and ship before returning to their home city.
Gameplay largely consists of clicking on objects in an area to interact with them. Sometimes this involves engaging in combat with enemy forces — this is little different from interacting with other objects in that the player’s ship takes damage during battle, and if desired the skirmish may be viewed in a visually-impressive close-up view depicting what happened when. Combat is still completely hands-off, though, with the only real impact the player can have being through prior preparation — increasing stats through leveling up and purchasing equipment.
Every task in the game costs energy to perform, and if the player’s ship takes too much damage in combat, additional energy must be expended to repair it. Energy is refilled upon every level up, but early in the game tasks start costing a relatively large amount of energy to accomplish, and the amount available is very limited. This means that once the player gets into a cycle of expending all their energy, play sessions are extremely short unless they either purchase energy top-ups or ask their friends for extra. The energy system spoils the experience significantly, as the story is interesting and the gameplay, while simple, is fun and has a degree more depth than many other Facebook-based role-playing games — as soon as the player is tasked with something that will take more than their full energy bar, however, the pacing is ruined and this will likely put many off. The aesthetic and depth of the game make it clear that it is aimed at “core” gamers rather than more casual players; many core players, however, do not have a lot of patience for this sort of mechanic and prefer means of monetization that do not throttle their play.
Energy issue aside, Sky Ocean is an impressive game with lots to do. Besides working through the story quests, players can also build a base to provide them with income, engage in battle against other airship captains, and cooperate with friends on boss battles. In a nice touch, other players’ ships can be seen flying around on the story maps, giving the game a much more obviously “massively multiplayer” feel than many other titles that provide what is essentially a solitaire experience with multiplayer components. Regular special events and promotions encourage players to make purchases and engage in player-vs-player combat, and the game carries full “clan” functionality for those who enjoy playing with others. Joining a clan will help solve the energy issue to a certain degree, as making friends with other players will allow for energy top-ups to be asked for more frequently, but it is still an obtrusive mechanic that actively gets in the way of enjoying the game.
On the whole, Sky Ocean is a good game that is worth checking out. Without the obtrusive energy system, it would be a great game worthy of recommendation without hesitation; as it stands, however, it’s sadly yet another game in which monetization gets in the way of players’ enjoyment.
Detailed user information for Sky Ocean was unavailable at the time of writing, but Facebook reports the game has 4,300+ monthly users. Follow its progress with AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
A good RPG for core players, but the energy system will very much get in the way of being able to enjoy it fully for many.