Be still my beating heart; someone has found a way to combine wild west aesthetics, the mechanics of Smash Bros, and a competitive FPS structure that doesn’t instantly hand a win to the first player to put a crosshair over someone’s head. Lunar Rooster’s Sky Noon is an online FPS set in a weird floating wild west, where folks navigate with rocket boots and grappling hooks, and guns shoot compressed air instead of hot lead, and it’s out today, albeit via early access.
On account of your shootin’ irons blowing a whole lot of hot air, the only way to score a ‘kill’ in Sky Noon is to punt your opponents off the island and into the sky in any direction, even straight up if you can launch them sufficiently high. Every player is equipped with a Lifeline grappling hook which can save you from disappearing off into the clouds, but this of course makes you a very visible target, moving predictably to wherever you shot your hook into.
It does occur to me that Sky Noon isn’t the only game I’ve seen to build on the concept of a blood-free, win-by-ring-out FPS. There was a Doom mod called Push. While it lacks the grappling hooks and wild west aesthetic, most of the other concepts are present and correct, including the obvious Smash inspiration. There is just something unusually satisfying about smacking your opponent around until they get knocked flying, as opposed to just dropping them with a single precision headshot.
The game originally started out as a university project, but the developers found that the formula worked so well that they’ve built it into a full-fledged retail game, and even picked up a publisher – Reverb – along the way. It’s still some ways from its final launch, with Lunar Rooster hoping to wrap things up in another 6-8 months. More maps, character customisation, more game-modes and online leaderboards are on the cards, although plans may change.
Sky Noon is out now on Steam early access for £11.39/$15, minus the usual 10% launch discount.