A cold open greeted me for my preview, starting in a landing pod with a contextual note about why you have returned to Earth. Leaving the pod, you step out into the ruins of a skyscraper that feels tall as it sticks out of the ‘Dust’the barrier between the changing world below and the dilapidated skyscrapers that mark the sky as far as you can see. The mood of Forever Skies is set immediately, with a sense of scale and isolation that instantly drew me into the demo.

Moving through the skyscraper, you uncover the hints of story in the logs among the wreckage of people that had clearly tried to survive in the post-apocalypse before you had. Their decomposing bodies are still there to further set the mood. Their notes indicate that one of their numbers went mad and was imprisoned but evidently escaped and stole the virus sample they were studying. Moving about this space was interesting and introduced you to some of the survival systems. There is dirty water sitting in satellite dishes, as well as, thankfully, some surviving fruit and first aids kits to begin your journey. And, of course, the classic: materials to be turned into something else down the line. 

As I continue to move through the skyscraper, there’s some light puzzling: locating a battery to power up a computer and the door to the next level; along the way, picking up a scanner that lets you scan much of the environment for some more lore details as well as what to do with some of these items that you cannot yet affect. 

About now was when the survival mechanics came more into play — finding an airship that sticks out from the rest of the decaying building as a shiny opportunity and finding a Fabricator nearby to be the first pieces added to your airship. This is where those materials come in handy as I turn them into more useful items and then use them to craft an Extractor – an item that my scanner has been teasing me about as a way to collect materials from walls and other bigger items. The Extractor is placed on the side of my ship and is essentially a beam cannon. Point it at an object and watch it disintegrate as the materials are beamed to your backpack. This was a ton of fun to use, and I spent a good few minutes just beaming up as much as possible — including the supporting beam of a nearby skyscraper, which resulted in the building collapsing more into itself. 

Nearby was a damaged engine for your airship, but thanks to the trusty scanner, I could scan its blueprint to be recreated in my Fabricator. With the materials gathered for this, I had also built a few other staples – a lure to catch some of the mutated denizens from under the dust that acted as an automated fishing line, a cooking station to improve their returns as well as all the components to collect and purify some water. This was all to help manage the four main survival systems; Thirst, hunger, health and stamina. I also encountered a Virus from some of the old fruit I ate that resulted in the scorching sun burning me more than usual until I had found the cure, conveniently a different kind of fruit nearby. These systems required much managing throughout the sixty-minute demo and weren’t anything I would easily forget.

I was ready to leave the starting tower with the engine finally installed and some fuel. From here, the demo only gave me 20 minutes to explore the skies. As the name Forever Skies suggests, the world will be procedurally generated in the final release, but there were limits placed on the exploration for the purposes of the demo. Still, with 360 degrees of options to pursue, I opted for an orange flashing light in the distance and stopped and did some fishing along the way as I got hungry. Upon reaching the tower, I discovered some plans for a turbine addition to my ship, which allowed me to ascend and descend, as well as another battery used in its creation. It seems these Solid State Batteries will be a crucial yet rare resource in Forever Skies. Due to some of my dilly-dallying and deciding to stop in the middle of the air to collect more resources via the Extractor, my 20 minutes of exploration were up not long after this. 

The Forever Skies demo was impressive with its setting and mood, and the promise of expanding an airship with more compartments and gadgets whilst exploring the desolated remains of Earth is certainly an intriguing concept. In this early part of the game, the survival mechanic felt good to engage with and balanced enough that they weren’t easily forgotten but were not a massive roadblock in progress. The demo has left me in a position wanting more, and looking forward to the Early Access release slated for later this year.