My favorite part of any game is when I get to do something I've never done in a game before. So here I am, standing on the edge of the blimp that serves as my mobile base, using a small crane to lower a cable down into the toxic clouds below, then reeling it back in to see I've caught a giant moth the size of a seagull.
I've never gone mutant moth fishing while hovering in a blimp over a post-apocalyptic Earth before. That's a 10/10 in my book. I look at the 3D printer in my blimp's cabin and see that I don't have enough resources to fabricate a cooking pot, so I just shove the giant moth into my mouth and eat it raw. Never done that before, either. Another 10/10.
Forever Skies (opens in new tab) is a first-person survival game set on a ruined Earth, where your base is an airship—technically not a blimp, but sue me, I like using the word blimp. You pilot the airship from skyscraper to ruined skyscraper as you gather resources, craft gear, and hunt for food (or moths) and drinkable water. And as you progress you can make your flying base bigger and fill it with more sci-fi gadgets. The survival game from developer Far From Home isn't out yet, with a release window set for later this year, but there's a playable demo out now on Steam during Next Fest.
As for why the Earth is in such bad shape: our humble planet was devastated by some sort of ecological disaster that left it swallowed up by an unrelenting toxic dust storm. Some remnants of humanity went offworld for a few centuries, but now you're back hoping to find the cure for a horrible disease, presumably because no solution can be found in space.
I spent most of the demo scrounging resources, crafting sci-fi tools, and carefully clambering around on narrow walkways. You're exploring areas built by long-dead humans who cobbled together bridges and platforms at the tops of skyscrapers to stay above the clouds of toxic dust, so you really need to watch your step. Everything is rusty and busted, though there are computer terminals you can power up to learn more about what happened in diary entries. I'm glad to find myself in yet another apocalypse where people are diligent about keeping personal journals.
Here's a tip while exploring post-apocalyptic earth: Be careful what you eat. Before I started fishing for moths I found some melons that looked pretty tasty, but eating them gave me a virus that made me take damage whenever I looked up at the sun. That doesn't sound so bad—why would I ever need to look at the sun—but I wound up trying to aim my deck extractor (a mounted sci-fi ray I can use to break down objects into resources) at some metal panels on a roof I couldn't reach, and wouldn't you know it? The sun was hovering in the sky right behind them. I had to give it up. Damn those delicious apocalypse melons.
I got to build a few other useful items in my tiny airship: I bolted a water purifier onto the wall so I could collect dirty water pooled in satellite dishes, decontaminate it, and drink it. I added a storage box to stow my spare resources. I 3D printed out an engine, along with some fuel (3D printing has gotten really good in the post-apocalyptic future). And I fabricated my insect catcher and a lure, even though at that stage I didn't really know what I was catching insects for. Or how big those insects would be.
And then I was off in my blimp base, slowly flying toward a beacon I could barely make out through the dirty, hazy atmosphere. The blinking light signified another place to land, scrounge more stuff, and hopefully wind up with enough resources to fill my food and water meters, and maybe heal myself from the sun damage I took every time I glanced at the sky. The locations I visited were all a bit same-y, a few different levels of skyscraper with resources scattered here and there. The world surrounding you feels suitably hazardous, with howling winds, occasional driving rain, and an eerie green glow to the sky at night.
On my to-do list was crafting a new module that would let me change the elevation of my blimp, promising to take me above the clouds to see more of the world without the dust obscuring everything, but I never got to build it. The main downside to the demo is that once you repair, fuel, and begin piloting your airship for the first time, a timer starts and you only have 20 minutes to play from that point on.
That's not quite enough time to form a strong opinion about Forever Skies—I'm intrigued by the premise and love having a mobile blimp base, but I can't really say I had a blast in the demo having only crafted a few gizmos and visited a few different (but same-ish) locations. I'm mostly just sad I didn't have enough time to craft a cooking pot. I'm sure moths taste better boiled than raw.