Volantia is a casual city builder with light resource management and a cool sky aesthetic. Players take control of the Tazari people after a disaster called “the shattering” forces them to utilize magic to raise their kingdom into the sky. However, this magic is not limitless. In order to ensure the Tazari’s survival, you must expand their floating kingdom, find magic pillars, and stabilize the island. In campaign mode anyway. Volantia is ultimately good, for what it is. But it’s just not much.
Though non-traditional in presentation, Volantia’s floating kingdom exists in a grid composed of hexagonal spaces. You can occupy each space with one building, a road, or game generated landscape such as a forest, lake, or mountain. Every game starts with an island comprised of your main city surrounded by six open spaces.
As soon as the game begins, a timer to generate new islands starts. Each island is randomly generated with different shapes and tiles types. By attaching these islands to your main city, you expand the kingdom. This contributes to two major components of the game, mainly, resource generation, and creating paths to magical pillars.
To Lead a Nation
In Volantia there are four basic types of resource: dust, fruit, chryso, and aethium. Each has their specific use and can only be gathered with a specific building. Each of the buildings has its own requirements. For instance, fruit trees must be grown on flowery spaces, in close proximity to water. Aethium mines must be placed next to mountains. And all of them must be connected to a road that connects to your workers’ homes and your main city.
Building is very simple. Drag a building onto a tile and it spontaneously appears. To build anything you’ll need matter which is converted from dust. There’s also a research system which requires a lot of chryso and aethium. Management means making sure you have enough types of materials coming in, the facilities to process them, and the workers to make sure all of this is being done efficiently. All the while, you will need to expand your kingdom to build new gathering nodes as your old ones wear out. There’s just one problem, Volantia struggles to make any of that trouble seem worth it.
Volantia and the Case of the Murky Identity
Volantia has two modes, each with serious issues. In the campaign mode, players’ goals are twofold. You have the casual building for the sake of building element. But you’re also under a time limit to connect your mainland with numerous Zardim crystals (magical pillars) to prevent the kingdom from crumbling. This gives a frantic feeling to gameplay, which is odd considering the way building is designed to work.
You can control the terrain of your kingdom. If you have a space with flowers on it but no water nearby, you can theoretically put another island with a lake next to it and make it possible to build a fruit tree. The strange and unusual thing about campaign mode is often you have to ignore those strategic placements in favor of racing to the next crystal. They aren’t super forgiving about the time and I really didn’t enjoy my playthrough of it.
The other mode is just a sandbox. With no time restrictions, you can do whatever you want. It’s, in theory, an endless builder, however, it doesn’t feel like a worthwhile endeavor. The research system is a draw but I quickly realized there was nothing that was going to revolutionize my kingdom. Every upgrade was small and felt meaningless and the whole mode started to feel like a waste of time. And all of this is intensified by the game’s length. One playthrough of the campaign takes about 2 hours, unlocking every available building took around 2 ½ hours.
On one hand, you have a relaxing puzzle game which shoots itself in the foot by being too frantic and on the other a puzzle game with no real sense of accomplishment.
Should You Buy it?
I would actually say “yes” if Volantia: Kingdom in the Sky was priced appropriately. But, unfortunately, it isn’t. The full retail price of this game is $15 and that is ludacris for what you get. I’ve played incredibly similar mobile games for significantly less. I don’t mean to devalue the work of these developers because it isn’t a bad game by any means but it is light on content. And I’m confident that it could make money at a cheaper price point. Pass on this one.
However, Volantia is a Humble Bundle Original and it is featured in the Trove which you can get if you are or want to subscribe to their humble monthly bundle thing. As part of a bundle the value is a bit more palatable.
Available from Steam