The Refreshing Feeling of SKYE
It seems like whenever I fly, I'm either steeped in flight planning specifics or in combat situations focused on getting weapons on target. Constantly managing multi-engine airliners or overwhelmingly powerful combat aircraft can be stressful. Every once in a while, it's nice to step back from having a borderline helmet fire and just enjoy flight in its most basic form.
SKYE is a free-to-play flight arcade game that doesn't push the player to be a war hero or semi-pro pilot. It's a short, carefree flight experience with a few small storylines and quests to partake in. To me, it is a breath of fresh air that I still revisit whenever I want an easy-going, low-stakes flight experience.
SKYE is a casual flight game developed by DeCoded Production, a team of students from the Breda University of Applied Sciences (EN) in the Netherlands. The game was created as part of a university course and has been uploaded to Steam for an international audience to appreciate. Work on the concept for SKYE began in September 2019, with active development starting in February 2019. While dealing with issues related to remote working from home, editing the artistic vision of the game, and factoring in public feedback, the game was released on Steam as an early access title on June 11th, 2020. After some final updates, the full version of the game was released on June 18th, 2020.
There is only a single floatplane to fly, but that's really all that's needed to be enjoyable. While at the controls of their trusty aircraft, players are free to fly around an area inspired by the Hebrides, an archipelago west of Scotland. The game area is limited to the two large islands and the smaller outlying rocky islands surrounding it. With its hand-painted visual style, soft soundtrack, and unthreatening environment, SKYE's mellow beauty can be felt at all times. The islands feel alive with boats sailing through the water, other aircraft traversing the island, and chimneys on buildings quietly puffing out smoke.
Freely flying is further encouraged with collectible spy glasses placed across the island and a photo mode for taking some exceptional screenshots. I must stress how good this game's visual style is simply because it's so different from what a majority of past and current flight games and simulators look like.
The entire game can be played with either keyboard-mouse controls or a gamepad. Though flying with a gamepad is best, using it in conjunction with a mouse to navigate menus is ideal. The menus are somewhat confusing to navigate only using the gamepad because of how options are highlighted. Just using a mouse to click what's needed is fastest.
The flight physics are very friendly. Default controls combine yaw and roll to maneuver the aircraft left, right, up, down, but full roll authority for more aerobatic flying is accessible with a separate set of keyboard keys or gamepad's right thumbstick. There is only a visual penalty for crashing with the aircraft. It mostly just bounces off terrain and structures harmlessly, with an increasing amount of smoke and flame become visible. Landing on bodies of water is done by deaccelerating to the lowest speed possible and somewhat gliding the aircraft onto the water's surface. Traversing the water is possible by increasing engine speed to at least half, allowing for safe landings away from the desired location. The floatplane can then taxi up to the location. With the flight model being like this, I'd even go as far as saying SKYE is a good beginner's title for someone of any age who has never tried a flying game before.
There is no overarching story, but tasks can be accepted from a small group of people. They'll ask you to do things like delivering replacement parts, scouting good fishing spots, and finding items lost at sea, for example. While a target practice gun is eventually mounted to the aircraft, the most you'll be shooting is traditional bull's eye target markers. There is no combat in this game. Other events include timed air races that focus on how fast players can fly through the terrain.
As lovely as SKYE is, it has been made clear by its now-dissolved developer team that there are no plans to expand or update it. With this being a limited scope project and its students now graduated from the university, this game will most likely remain in its current state. Whether you're looking for a temporary distraction from high fidelity simulated aviation or just want to enjoy the accessible flight arcade experience, SKYE is a free and easy addition to anyone's collection.
About the Author
Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
The Director of Operations for Skyward Flight Media. A lifelong aviation enthusiast with a special interest in flight simulators and games. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating aviation related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He continues to explore past and present flight games and sims with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. | Twitter | Discord: RibbonBlue#8870 |