Above was one of the games I was most looking forward to playing at PAX East 2018. The game puts you in the role of a young aspiring pilot, however you’re not taking to familiar skies. Some time ago, a great catastrophe struck this alternate version of Earth, and flooded the world, leaving only small isolated islands which were once mountain peaks. Gargantuan behemoths lurk in the dark waters, always hungering.
Yes, this is Lovecraftian Sky Waterworld. Yes, it’s awesome
Experience the freedom of fight over a flooded world in this aeronautic hero’s journey, where lives revolve around the ancient evil beneath the waves. This action adventure takes you from humble beginnings in a fishing village to daring capers with sky pirates, uncovering the mystery of murderous cultists and passing through to discover what lies on the other side.
One of the thing I was most eager to experience was Above‘s controls. Flight simulators and just flying a plane or aerial vehicle is notoriously finicky and difficult in video games. I was worried that it’d be hard to not only pull off aerial tricks and daring feats of flight, but just land safely in Above.
Having played it, my worries are alleviated. Mighty Moth Games have brilliantly divided the games controls. On a gamepad, your Right stick controls your basic movements: up, down, left, right. The left stick however, controls your pitch, letting you do flips, precise turns, and barrel rolls. However, you don’t have to use that left stick at all. The right stick controls are reliable and straightforward and I got the destict impression you could happily make your through the game only using that.
The demo tasked Mary, the main character you play as, with collecting some scrap metal, constructing a new engine for her plane, and then flying to a nearby mysterious island to deliver a sacrifical package. Mary is searching for her brother, and has defied her home community by taking to the skies to do so. This mysterious island is her brothers last known whereabouts, giving us a fantastic motivation.
Taking off from the starting island, we head off towards the known location of some flotsam and jetsam. Before takeoff, we were given a tow hook to equip to our plane. This is lowered and used to fish up crates of metal from the ocean, a simple task. Upon returning to the starting island, I was directed to the hangar, where i built an new engine (allowing me to ascend further into the air) and got a glimpse at the myriad different upgrade options, only a taste of what’s to come as the game is still in early development. Suffice to say, you’ll have many ways to build and customize your plane, and you’ll be able to invest in offensive and defensive technologies as the game progresses.
After picking up the package of sheep’s guts (okay, that’s weird) from an old man, I was directed to drop said package into the crater in the middle of an old abandoned temple to the south (okay, that’s much weirder), but I didn’t head straight there.
First, I headed west and got a glimpse at a large sea beast lurking in the waves, circling a wreck of some old ship. As soon as he caught sight of my plane, he pursued, and I didn’t wait around to see what would happened. The developers ensured me this was just a taste of what was out there, hungering…
So, I headed for the ruined temple. I imagine this would be some small ruin on a blasted island, ravaged by some past conflict.
I was wrong.
What loomed ahead of me was a monolitic black structure with alien architecture. A sickly green glow pulsed from it’s walls, and I had to ascend sharply to make the summit. Sure enough, a massive yawning hole was evident at it’s peak, and, after some nudging from developer Benjamin Salqvist that yes, I should drop the crate full of bloody animal parts into this whole (generally, I avoid that kind of thing), I released the cargo. After a moment, a pillar of green light burst from the whole. Requiring more encouragement (seriously, this seems like a bad idea), I wheeled my plane around and dove into the light.
I won’t spoil what I saw. It was weird, alien and entirely unexpected, unlike anything Above had showed off before. Suffice to say, I’m very excited to see how Above develops, and to see where this aerial rabbit hole leads…
Above is currently aiming for a release in Q1 of 2019. No specific platforms have been announced as of yet, outside of PC and an intent to bring the game to consoles.