PEGBRJE: Airships: Conquer the Skies and MidBoss
Today is more about customization than yesterday.
Airships: Conquer the Skies is a 2D ship shooting strategy game developed by Zarkonnen, a solo developer who has a few other titles out there. As with many of these titles, I hadn’t heard of Airships before, but the premise reminded me heavily of my childhood flash game days shooting castles from a distance. You control a bunch of little sprite characters who man a ship that you design and create, and shoot down other ships that aren’t yours. Sometimes they aren’t ships, sometimes they’re on land, but the game is called ‘Airships: Conquer the Skies’, not ‘Landships: Passify the Earth’. We FLYING.
Airships gives players full customization of how they wish to make their 2D ship. From its guns, the pathways the crewmen take, the ship is completely up to the player to design and craft how they see fit. The game seems fairly straightforward up until this point, with combat boiling down to moving your ship to specific locations so that your guns can hit their ship. Multiplayer adds some spice to this to fight against other real players, but the general feel of combat and ship building is all laid out in its cyberpunk glory. That is, until you get to conquest.
Conquest mode is about as close to Star Wars: Battlefront’s old Galactic Conquest as it can be, and I adore it. Players are given a home city, a starting fleet and an entire map to explore and conquer. There are options to design and build new ships to add to the fleet, city defenses to bolster so money can be made and landships to deploy out onto the world. Of course, it isn’t the same setting nor combat system, but having control over an entire fleet to rain hellfire from your cyberpunk ships is just as satisfying. I lost myself in this game mode for quite some time, and would recommend this game for it alone.
Airships: Conquer the Skies brings cyberpunk to the skies with so many customization options that its hard to keep track. Anyone that enjoyed previous flash games that involved flying ships and maintaining them will enjoy Airships, especially if you involve yourself in the Conquest and Multiplayer modes. Even still, there’s enough shooting to go around.
MidBoss, on the other hand, is a turn based rogue-like crafted by Kitsune Games, a studio founded by Eniko (the solo dev whose page the games are uploaded to on itch.io). Like many other projects, this one started as a Game Jam game with the prompt ‘You are the villain’, and features an imp who decides to revolt against the dungeon he is in and become more powerful than the boss itself. You do this by destroying the very dungeon crafted by the boss and body snatching your fellow dungeon monsters to achieve pinnacle form.
MidBoss feels very similar to a standard rogue-like dungeon-crawling experience that one would expect. Starting the game, you are given a clean slate, and must go through floors to find more powers by possessing other monsters to gain their abilities. This is done via a turn based combat system, where your speediness can determine if you get to attack twice before they do, or if they get to beat on your small impish character after every hit you give them. If you find that the monsters are too difficult, running doesn’t entirely work and death soon follows, which grants the reward of a death card to summarize the run that was completed and gives the player the ability to equip items from your dead body on their next run. The game then starts anew and the grind continues.
Where MidBoss changes up the routine is in just how accessible it is for anyone to play. Before the game starts, players are given numerous options on how to customize their ability to play the game. Narrative-driven players have their own mode where death isn’t permanent but combat buffs are, allowing them to explore the dungeon and engross themselves in the plot without the fear of losing everything. If this sounds a little too loose, the 1UP mode gives 4 lives as a buffer zone to work with, giving death some consequences but not being immediate. There is even a custom mode that has numerous changes to the game to allow for anyone to play. The pacing of the game can even be altered once the mode is selected, so if the game is too slow or fast this can be adjusted.
Accessibility even has roots in how the player physically plays the game, as highlight during the tutorial. The standard controls are WASD with EQZC to control diagonal movement, but for those with less dexterity the mouse can be used as a proper substitute: just click, and your character moves to that location. This works in combat as well, since it is turn-based there is no fear of needing to twitch dodge or have fast reflexes. Simply clicking on the enemy attacks them, and clicking on other action buttons triggers their ability to be used as well.
In a weird sense, this is as close to a lazy Sunday afternoon game as I believe most dungeon crawlers can achieve, and seems developed with this accessibility goal in mind. Players never feel like their ability to play MidBoss is questioned or hindered, and instead they can just play it over and over again. If you are in the mood for a relaxing dungeon crawler about bad guys revolting against other bad guys with some colourful conversations in between with characters throughout the dungeon, give MidBoss a shout.
As always, links to both games are below. I’d also like to mention that both sound tracks in these games are fantastic, and I will only get tired of saying that when it stops being true. Airships uses an ACCORDION, and that alone gives it bonus points in my books.
Airships: Conquer the Skies
In Airships: Conquer the Skies you'll need to use all of your creativity and skill to design and build fearsome…