In times gone by, the airborne kingdom travelled to all the ground kingdoms bringing knowledge, culture and tradition. The airborne kingdom united all the kingdoms, and everyone lived in harmony, until one day it disappeared without a trace. Years went by, and slowly the kingdoms separated, and small settlements were nearly wiped out. Then one day the blueprints to the airborne kingdom were discovered in the tapestry with a prophecy to return to the skies!
Airborne Kingdom is a gorgeous city builder where all the building happens in the air. The kingdom glides its way through the lands in hopes of reuniting the world once more. Gather resources, increase reputation with the ground kingdoms and learn secrets of the lost world.
Unlike most city builders, you play Airborne Kingdom in the sky. Building your kingdom around a town centre, you need to balance out buildings, so you don’t encounter any tilt – the people don’t like walking on a lean all day, understandably. Keep a close eye on coal and lift; otherwise, you might see yourself closer to the ground than is ideal.
Fortunately, coal, food, water and other resources can be found all over the map, and if you get particularly desperate, you will be able to trade with the ground kingdoms you find. Their prices are pretty steep, though, and I found buying water and food from them very expensive, but necessary at the time. Kingdoms will also have quests to complete which increases their trust in your mythical airborne kingdom. Complete the quests, and they might help you with resources as you travel around the world.
As you travel from kingdom to kingdom, you will need to be researching new buildings and upgrades. Research is crucial in Airborne Kingdom, especially for lift and propulsion as without them you will end up with a slow kingdom that could fall out of the sky.
Keeping this kingdom aloft is the people who live on it. They work on tasks such as flying to get resources, converting resources into items and helping with research. Something a little different about Airborne Kingdom is that you can’t easily re-assign your people to other tasks. If someone works in the academy, they can’t switch to being a glassmaker because it’s unlikely that their skills would overlap. You will need to destroy buildings to re-assign people.
Traversing the world is easy with a map and compass at your disposal and a balloon to indicate your chosen destination. The only downside is that there are no markers or pins to identify your quest location. This can make it difficult to pinpoint the best direction to go.
Art and sound design
The art and sound design in Airborne Kingdom are just divine. There is beauty everywhere you look and a gorgeous soundtrack to accompany you on your journey. I was especially mesmerised by the ground. The ground tiles and design of the resources are beautiful and, while most people focused on their airborne kingdom, I used the inbuilt photo mode to take photos of the gorgeous mosaic of tiles below us as well as the kingdoms we found. I’d also recommend taking a look up during the long nights. There is beauty to be found above us as well.
The soundtrack by Paul Aubry is just perfect. It sets the tone and ambience of the game and is an excellent backdrop to the world. It is available to buy as part of the deluxe version of the game or on Bandcamp. There are also lovely little sound effects as you set your destination balloon and can be found as you investigate your kingdom, but the soundtrack is definitely the star here.
I think it’s easy to see that I really enjoyed this game. It’s been so long since I’ve played a city builder that I could play for hours and hours without wanting to stop. I was in love from the beginning. The story is intriguing, and it was easy to get lost in the world of the game.
My favourite part of the game is that it is combat-free. The focus isn’t on invading and attacking neighbouring kingdoms but uniting them. This is done with trust and not fear and is quite unusual in this style of game. Airborne Kingdom might just be my favourite game of the year.
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Platforms: PC (Epic)
Genre: Simulation, strategy, city-builder