Are you ready for some epic multiplayer battles as you look to destroy your rival’s castle whilst protecting your own?! Well, make sure you don’t forget your deck of cards, because you’ll need them in Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl – the virtual reality card-based strategy title that brings fun strategic action to the Oculus Quest.
Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl offers gamers strategic card-based showdowns where the goal is to destroy your rival’s castle, with players plucking units out of their hand of cards and sending them into battle. You can’t throw each card in without a care in the world though, with each having a mana cost to place them – your mana recharges as you play, but it does demand that you think carefully about the cost of a unit and whether or not it might be the right time to use them. Outside of the position you send them to, each unit acts independently so all you’ve got to do is see the battle pan out. You can add a few magical ability-based cards to your deck though, each of which allows you to blast some elemental damage towards your opponents’ direction so you do get in on the action a little bit…
It’s a simple yet addictive gameplay formula that makes for quick and frantic action, with an emphasis placed on reading the situation, working out which cards are best to use, and preserving your resources in anticipation of whatever might come your way.
Whilst your strategic actions mainly boil down to just using cards, the units they provide feel like the typical assortment you’d expect to find in an RTS. You’ll have units that fight up close, units that fight from range, those that fight in the skies (my personal favourite), and even a few special ones that do something a little different. There’s flexibility in the selection to allow for a variety of different play styles – this works both ways though, so you’ve also got to prepare yourself for whatever surprises your opponent will have in their deck. Of course, like all good card games, there’s also the anticipation of waiting eagerly for that one vital card you need to be drawn mid-battle too, with the card-based mechanics of Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl making the whole experience feel particularly intense at times.
You can constantly tinker with your deck thanks to the gold you earn from battles, with both new cards available to purchases as well as upgrades for your existing ones. Given Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl’s multiplayer focus, the idea of upgrades may feel like it can give players an unfair advantage – however, each upgrade you can apply comes with pros and cons, so it all balances itself out. They do allow you to shape your deck to your personal preference even more though, so there’s plenty to play about with to give yourself your own perfect little setup that suits you. It will take some time to earn the gold required to try everything out though, so do expect to put some hours in if you want to experience everything that Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl’s cards have to offer.
So Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl makes for an entertainingly strategic experience for the most part, but it does come with flaws. For one, the game is at its best when its played in multiplayer, but I’ve had times when I’ve struggled to come across other players to join in with. You are able to face off against the AI and it’s a good way to learn the game, but it doesn’t feel the same as taking on another real life player and teasing each other with your in-game avatars.
It does make me worry about the longevity of the experience for some gamers, especially for those who don’t have friends that own the game that they can organise battles with. Whilst I was able to find a few random online battles and play with friends, there were more times when I’d go online and find nobody. When you do find players, they’re normally VERY good at the game and not matching your skill level too, so it can quickly turn into what feels like an unfair beating which is a bit frustrating. In fairness, the game did come out a few months ago now so I had expected the player-base to drop a bit, but the lack of activity may be enough to put newcomers off.
It’s a real shame too, because partaking in battles and seeing each one unfold in front of you is a lot of fun. The visuals are pretty good too, whilst there are plenty of environments to battle across that each offer something different. What I particularly liked was seeing my rival on the other end of the battlefield and watching their hands swiftly moving as they try to react to my incoming attacks or their head drop when they realised that defeat was imminent… it’s satisfying, in a dark and twisted way. Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl gets a whole lot right – it just doesn’t always have the player-base for gamers to really appreciate it.
I’ve always been a fan of table-top-style virtual reality games, and thanks to its strategically-fun gameplay and slick presentation, Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl is definitely one of the better ones I’ve played. It’s just a shame that it’s lacking a real player-base right now, especially with its multiplayer focus. You can play against the AI if you want, but it’s not the same as sharing the battlefield with a real-life player.
Your enjoyment of Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl will ultimately come down to whether or not you find other players to battle against. If you’ve got a few friends to play with or jump on the game in one of its busier times, it’s a whole lot of fun and you’ll lose hours in epically strategic showdowns. If you jump on when no-one is available though… well, you’re just going to lose hours hoping another player comes along.
Developer: Vertigo Games
Publisher: Vertigo Games
Platform(s): Oculus Quest (Reviewed), Oculus Rift, HTC Vive