UFG Goes Hands on With Sky Noon!

Every gamer has that limbo period after E3 in which every game you have now feels outdated. It’s only natural. All of the exciting reveals, new IP’s and highly anticipated sequels make it difficult to enjoy the currently available titles; at least for me, for a time.  So, you can imagine how I felt when we got a preview code for Sky Noon, an indie title recently released into Early Access. Even though I was eager to try it out (it’s premise was interesting), in the back of my mind I was all “this isn’t one of the cool and shiny new games announced during a press conference”. That quickly changed after literally minutes in game. Not only is it unlike anything I’ve ever played, Sky Noon is also poised to be the next big PC shooter!

Sky Noon, developed by Lunar Rooster, has a deceivably simple concept. The objective isn’t to deplete an enemy’s life bar, like in other shooters. Instead, you’re supposed to push them off platforms à la Super Smash Bros. – except, you know, in first person using guns and such. You see, the game takes place in a crazy wild west universe where gunslingers and cartel battle on raised landmasses using compressed air weapons. Players will join either side before being catapulted onto these floating platforms set amongst the clouds. Equipped with an air gun, grappling hook, lasso and a special ability that ranges from explosives to traversal items like a teleporter – matches resemble classic arcade shooters before evolving into a beautifully chaotic dance.

I say dance because of how the pushing and pulling works. The grappling hook, for instance, is your best ally in game. Everyone will be swinging around the map like Spider-Man to get the drop on someone, to dodge attacks or grapple back onto the map after being pushed. What makes it great though is how it helps to build up speed – the added momentum combining with your weapon’s air pressure – to push opponents further away. With practice it’s possible to “smash” a recovering opponent off the map while chasing them through the air. It can be really difficult to do at times, but man is it satisfying seeing that shot hit its mark and watching an enemy fall into nothingness. Other items also lean themselves to the pushing and pulling. The lasso can be used to pull items and enemies toward you, snagging a better gun before they do or helping to line up the perfect shot. Explosives can be used to blow enemies away/off platforms while jet packs help to alleviate some of the stress involved with scrambling to get back onto the map.

So far, Sky Noon offers four modes of play. There’s the normal ilk (Team Deathmatch, King of the Ring, etc.) as well as an original mode called Cart. In Cart mode, two teams compete over a single mine cart full of treasure; they’ll have to push the cart along a track towards their base using their weapons and items. This creates a push-of-war situation where the teams are pushing in opposite directions in hopes of moving the cart. Dealing with rivals before going for the cart is sound. The lasso can help save ammo by pulling it instead of pushing. Using the gripping hook to build momentum before hitting the cart, to push it further along, also helps. The biggest concern though is the direction changing targets scattered around the map. These targets, once hit, will change the carts direction on the track, making it either go towards or away from your base. So not only do you have to deal with the opposing team while pushing the cart along, but you also have to hit targets to make sure you’re going in the right direction.

Sky Noon is entertaining regardless of mode. That said, with it being an Early Access title, there aren’t a lot of servers to play on or people to play with. There are also connectivity issues and such hindering the good times. None of it is too concerning at the moment; EA titles are works in progress and hopefully enough players will hear about Sky Noon to produce a decently sized community. What I would like to see though is more customization options. Right now, you can only choose to be male or female and what clothing items they wear (once unlocked). It would be great to be able to change our skin color, hair, alter facial features and so on. I understand that the game is played from a first-person view, but I don’t want to be a clone among clones. Is it impossible for Lunar Rooster to add options allowing me to play as a ‘brotha’ or ‘sista’ in the floating wild west? Nope. I’m sure they’ve considered such things given how tiring it can be to grind for the clothing items that everyone will wear once they hit similar levels.

I am really excited to see how Sky Noon evolves going forward. With more maps, modes and customization options/unlockables, it has the potential to really take off in a realm of its own. Not to mention, at $15 (it’s currently on sale for $13.49) and the modest PC requirements, the entry level is low; I can see players flocking to this game once the word gets out. Then again, Steam has become so saturated with games (quality be damned) that it may be hard for Sky Noon to stand out. Here’s hoping that’s not the case because I am officially addicted/in need of more players to push off of things!


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