by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Reach for the sky, boy!
I’m not the best at Shooters or Brawlers, but somewhere, not so deep down, I enjoy them for those moments of adrenaline, and the brief but outstanding displays of skill (or luck, call it how you see it). One of the real downsides to many shooters is being one-shot, despite swearing you had a full health bar: There’s no way that bullshit AK-47 was able to drop you in one or two bullets, but it happened and there’s nothing you can do to change that. Maybe, maybe I’m just projecting here. Anyway, Sky Noon gets all of that stuff right in a spectacular, high-speed fashion with a secret weapon: Grappling Hooks.
Yesterday I had the pleasure to pretend I have some skills at Sky Noon (despite never playing it before) with a few members of their team: Shannon McPherson (PR Coordinator), Ted Lange (Executive Producer, who I’m so sick of being killed by), Ben Willemssen (Producer), Dan DeMattei (Marketing Director) and Brandon Wallace (Marketing Manager). After this play session, I have to say with all honesty that I love this game.
The premise behind Sky Noon is that the Law and the Outlaws are battling for dominance and supremacy over several match types. The catch is that there are no health bars. Instead you use your lasso and weapons to blow people off the map with air ammunition. Depending on your aim with the grappling hook and how strong of a weapon hit you, simply being knocked away may mean nothing. I’ve landed some incredible split-second grapples to hook me right back, swinging from the bottom of the map to the top, only to secure a kill (by that, I obviously mean “steal” a kill).
Sky Noon features several types of game modes in the Early Access, and I really think there’s something for everyone. There’s even a nice, complicated Payload Mode for fans of that. Gameplay is very simple though: You spawn in with a weapon, from a Machine Pistol, Revolver, Shotgun or something akin to a Rocket Launcher, and a special item. These range from Booster (Dash forward/down quickly), Rocket Boots (which fly you around), landmines, teleporters (teleports you to where it lands), dynamite, and more.
It’s important to note that Cart Mode will only use Bridge, Mesa, and Whirlwind maps. Team Elimination, however, uses Saloon, Towers, Homestead and High Town. Team Elimination (Team Deathmatch) is straightforward: the most kills at the end of the period wins. In Payload, you shoot the payload to move it and can change the railroad tracks to move it back towards your side. I just shoot the other team and let my teammates worry about that. Then you have Free-For-All, which speaks for itself. It’s whoever has the most kills at the end. If it ends in a tie, the match goes on till there’s a winner. I was surprised at King of the Hill because these maps are actually very small. They don’t feel small with all the highs and lows, but they definitely are compact. Each team needs to hold the “point”, and once it’s claimed it’ll randomly move, and it’s up to you to figure out where. First to five captures wins.
I felt like the Machine Pistol/Revolver were pretty weak, but when you pair them with stuff like Landmines/Dynamite, there’s still a lot of potential. Personally, my favorite weapon was the Shotgun, because it launches nice and far. You can also jump down at people and blast them in the air further away, so situational awareness is so very important. The maps all had lots of places to swing to, underneath, and around to make insane plays and guarantee that there is never a dull moment. If you run out of ammo, you can go find an ammo box (or come up with a new gun), or swap your special item out if what you had isn’t doing you any favors (in the blue crate, weapons are red crates).
I have not had this much fun in a shooter. . . ever, honestly. Most shooters are super-serious, grimdark affairs where you need to blast people into bits, with tons of guns, most of which aren’t useful at all. Everything in Sky Noon is useful in the right situation, and even when I was absolutely getting blasted (which was admittedly, most of the time), I still had fun! That’s what matters, and Sky Noon gets back to what matters in an online game: Fun. It could be competitive and have a real interesting ladder to it, but the standard online casual matches have been adrenaline rushes from start to end. It’s very easy to see what you can grapple onto/what you can shoot (the reticle turns green), which is an absolute blessing. There will be a leveling/customization system implemented, but not for the Early Access phase of the game. That will come in later. During the Early Access, you just have access to the cool cosmetic designs, which all neatly match the Wild West theme of the game.
Sky Noon is charming, it’s brightly colored, it doesn’t bother with character classes or complicated systems; it’s just fun, technical, high-octane FPS Brawling at its absolute finest. I cannot wait for more of this game. The only negative I ever had was how confusing Payload was. The rest of it is charming, exciting and if you’ll pardon the expression, a blast. With jetpacks, grappling hooks, bombs and guns, it has all I need to have a good time.