One of the first things I felt when I got into Airship: Kingdoms Adrift was nostalgia, but I couldn’t put my finger on why I was feeling that. After a moment, it hit me. This is just like Sid Meier’s Pirates!
Sid Meier’s Pirates! is one of my favorite childhood games. Honestly, if you ask me, it’s one of the best open-world games of all time. It has a charm to it that very few games have managed to capture since. Airship: Kingdoms Adrift being just one of them.
The World of Airship: Kingdoms Adrift
The world of Airship: Kingdoms Adrift is but a shadow of its former self. Long ago, it was much alike our very own world, with roaring seas and proud mountains standing high. And just like our world, the people that inhabited the world of Airship enjoyed a good war now and then.
All of that changed when a calamity struck, that shattered and remolded the entire world. Continents that were previously firmly attached to the floor bed now rose up in perpetual suspension, high above the ground. Something like in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, but with steampunk contraptions, rather than magic.
The Combat System Feels “Old” and “New” at the Same Time
When I say the combat feels “old” I don’t mean that in a bad way. In the world of gaming, we tend to associate old with clunky, but that’s not the case here. When I say old, I actually mean that it feels like a naval combat game from the 2000s. It’s responsive, it’s engaging, and, most importantly – rewarding!
That being said, Airship: Kingdoms Adrift is definitely not a game from the 2000s. The 2000s had a lot of great games, but, let’s be honest, they were rather simple. Airship: Kingdoms Adrift is anything but simple.
The combat isn’t just point-and-shoot, it’s a multi-level and complex process that only gets more challenging as the game progresses and you unlock new customization options. Something as simple as changing the officers on your ship can impact your playstyle in a major way.
Just take a look at the ship customization screen. I’ll be honest, if it weren’t for the tutorial gunboat here I’d have been completely clueless about what was going on. Airship: Kingdoms Adrift isn’t completely original here. Starsector has a similar ship customization system, and, arguably, an even more complex one at that.
Anyway, it’s not about the complexity of the system that matters, but how you use it instead. In that regard, Airship: Kingdoms Adrift has nailed it. Each aspect of your ship is customizable, a feature that I am extremely fond of, as it allows me to create the most unseaworthy vessels possible.
Thankfully we’re in the air, so that doesn’t concern me that much. What did concern me when I first learned of the game however was the dialogue screen. It reminded me too much of those carbon-copy modern mobile games. And, I’m happy to report that that isn’t the case.
The Story is Surprisingly Charming
The story of Airship: Kingdoms Adrift is primarily conveyed through dialogues. In my opinion, to successfully convey a story through dialogues in a video game you have to have three things: 1. Relatable interactions. 2. Good voice acting. And 3. A cast of charming characters.
Thankfully, the game has all three. Every one of the characters, although a bit tropey, felt relatable in some way or another. Additionally, most of the interactions in this game are voice-acted. Even though there’s a skip button, I rarely find myself skipping the dialogues.
It’s Not All Sunshine and Rainbows
Airship: Kingdoms Adrift is a great game, but it’s not perfect. it has a lot of pros, but at the same time, it has a lot of cons as well. One of my biggest issues with the game is its UI. For starters, the map screen is the only detailed report you get. So if you end up picking up a ton of quests, good luck figuring out what goes where.
Another thing that caught me off guard was a crash that I experienced while trying to run away from an impossible fight. For some reason, whenever I tried to surrender, the game would crash to the desktop. Hmm, I guess it’s just Davy Jones telling me to stop being a coward.
The final remark I have is about the graphics. They’re not bad per se, it’s just that they’re definitely not up to the 2023 standard. You’ll probably be able to max out every setting with just about any cheap 4k graphics card. Having photorealistic graphics isn’t essential, but maybe a stronger art direction would’ve helped it stand out a bit more.
If you’re someone who enjoys a good naval game and managing a giant empire, then you should definitely keep your eyes on Airship: Kingdoms Adrift. Whether you’re an explorer, a fighter, or a trader, you’ll definitely find some enjoyment in this game.
It’s a bit rough around the edges, but that’s something that can easily be amended with a few patches. All in all, the experience is diverse, captivating, and unique, while remaining faithful to its roots.
What did you think of our Airship: Kingdoms Adrift Preview? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
This preview is based on the PC version of Airship: Kingdoms Adrift. The key was provided by Stride PR and Freedom Games.