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Sky-sailing steampunk RPG 20,000 Leagues Above The Clouds cancelled

Ambition, talent and years of dedication isn’t always enough to keep a game afloat. Promising sky-ship adventure 20,000 Leagues Above The Clouds has officially been cancelled by developers That Brain. As detailed in their final update on Itch, they had pitched the game to multiple publishers over the past few years, but no route to finance the rest of production surfaced. Most of the team have gone their separate ways, but at least they left us with one final gift – a work-in-progress demo version, first debuted at ComicCon in 2015. Take it for one last twilight cruise here – please note that a gamepad is required.

It’s always tragic to see a clear passion project like this fizzle out. It began production back in 2011, originally as just a learning project for the rookie development crew, but it eventually grew into something that could have been big. Unfortunately, the game’s ambitions made it an awkward fit for publishers – as That Brain say, it was “from a financing standpoint the game was just too big to be small, and too small to be big”. For the past couple years, very little has actually happened with the game – the project mostly in stasis – with the developers only now officially calling it quits.

John first took a peek at the game in 2013, and Alice took another look at it in 2014, all while doing her best John Walker impression. While the less said about her impression, the better, I remember reading that little article many years ago. As a one-time Dreamcast owner and fan of Skies Of Arcadia, anything that gave me the chance to explore a sky of floating cities in a sea of clouds was of immediate interest. While Steampunk has fallen a little out of vogue, I still reckon there’s a place games like this.

In the meantime, those itching for the thrills of sailing through impossible realms might check out the recently remastered Diluvion: Resubmerged – a decent enough underwater take on the concept. More of this kind of thing, publishers. Next time, just throw all the sacks of cash at them. Please? How else are they going to afford top hats with gears on and overly complicated monocles?

You can try the final demo of 20,000 Leagues Above The Clouds here on Itch – a gamepad is required, as mouse and keyboard have no controls for shooting. Read the known issues list first, of course.

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Dominic Tarason

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