Known for point-and-click classics like Unavowed and Primordia, Wadjet Eye Games’ upcoming Old Skies follows protagonist Fia in a bizarre, time-traveling adventure that’s unlike anything the company has published before. To find out more, we sat down and played through the first section of the game in anticipation of its demo release at Steam Demo Fest.
Fia is an interesting protagonist, though not much of her backstory is revealed yet. She works for an agency that lets people take jaunts to different time periods in the past, provided nothing is changed, and she seems to be close friends with her mission control partner, Nozzo. A large part of Fia’s personality thus far can be chosen in dialogue options by the player, which makes it a little hard to get a handle on her basic character. She faces several difficult choices in the first time travel adventure, and she can be pragmatic, sympathetic, cold-hearted, or some combination of all three. What really shines through is that she’s intelligent and committed to her job and following the rules of it. Her friendship with Nozzo is also sweet, though we haven’t gotten to see much of him yet either. He’s clever and good with technology, making him an invaluable asset in Fia’s mission, but they seem to be friends beyond that.
The first mission follows Fia escorting Joseph Anderson to the past, also known as our not too distant future of 2024, in New York City, because after all, it is a Wadjet Eye game. Unfortunately for Fia, a standard mission to escort this man to eat at an old diner quickly takes a turn for the worse when rules are broken and history is potentially altered. It’s a short but emotional plot, and it’s not particularly in-depth. It seems like it’s designed as a demo, meant to get players acclimatized to the world and the controls before jumping into the big, main plot.
Old Skies has the usual point-and-click adventure game controls, with some inventory puzzles and some dependent on your information gathering abilities. Nozzo can be used as a resource or as a hint machine, though his hints are often too broad if you get stuck in the middle or at the end of a puzzle. Luckily, there are no real jumps of moon logic to be had here, and everything is solved in a fairly logical, if occasionally serendipitous, manner. Special notes should also be made of the database that Fia can access, providing information about almost anything and everything she encounters in the past, from padlocks to people. It’s her best tool and while it does take a little bit of getting used to, has major puzzle potential for future parts of the game.
The only real problem that I had with Old Skies was the animation and character art. The backgrounds of New York City are gorgeous and detailed, exactly what longterm fans have come to expect from Wadjet Eye, known for their pixel artwork and attention to detail. Unfortunately, the new style of characters and their animation is less than stellar. There are fewer details, less shading, and characters stand out from the beautifully detailed backgrounds just by virtue of looking not quite finished. It’s certainly not Ben Chandler’s work at his finest, and ends up being an oddly jarring contrast, as well as a disappointment for pixel art fans.
Despite the character art, Old Skies’ demo is well worth playing. With an engaging premise and likable protagonists, as well as logical puzzles, it’s only a taste of what is to come, but it promises an interesting, well-written plot for the future.
TechRaptor previewed Old Skies on PC using a copy provided by the publisher. The game does not currently have a release date.