Review: NightSky

A relaxing, beautiful addition to the eShop library that scratches the surface of greatness.

By Dustin Grissom. Posted 11/12/2012 10:00 2 Comments     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Tons of variety; beautiful presentation; getting all of the extras is worthwhile; both relaxing and fun
Poison Mushroom for...
Doesn't fully utilize some of its best ideas; not enough content in the main game

Where many games’ focus lately has been on high-octane action, NightSky is a nice breather between the thrills of the most recent blockbusters. This isn’t to say NightSky isn’t as good as those games; it is simply a different experience than what seems to have become synonymous with video games as of late. NightSky is a beautifully relaxing, perhaps soothing, experience that, while at times does tease the brain a bit with some puzzles (which certainly is not a negative!), is neither too difficult nor too dull.

The game makes it clear off the bat that you won’t encounter any enemies throughout the game. It’s just you, a rolling sphere, and a plethora of tranquil, beautiful screens occupied with physics based puzzles. Each level is separated into areas that consist of one or more screens (think of the original Legend of Zelda for how the screens work), each coexisting to create one physics based puzzle which you must complete to move forward in the game.

However, each area is not entirely the same. One of the major positives in this game is the variety. In one level, you may have the ability to boost the speed of your ball, but in the next, you could have the ability to invert gravity. There are also a good amount of vehicles that control in a variety of different ways. Plus, in some levels, you may not even control the ball directly– you may control a pinball flipper, a cannon, a couple of platforms, and many other contraptions that change the dynamic of the game. The variety is great, and one of the best parts of the game is the initial puzzle when entering a new area: what can I do to control the ball or the environment this time around? Sadly, many of the best control methods (namely, some of the awesome vehicles and environments) aren’t used often enough, and you are left feeling like the game is missing something.

The game has a wonderful atmoshpere.

Obviously, one of the main focuses in the game is the look and feel of it. You are introduced with a short story sequence that unfolds only through a beginning and end cut scene that neither benefits the game nor detracts from it– it’s sort of just there (I’m sure some people may find a deeper meaning behind it, but I wasn’t captivated in the slightest). Besides that, however, the game looks and sounds great. The soundtrack is neither boisterous nor amazing, yet the subtlety of it and the way it contrasts with the more prominent sound effects creates a great atmosphere.

The game is very stylistic, too, and some of the backgrounds and animations within the environments create a feeling that the worlds where you’re playing are both real and alive. It’s great, but it has some limitations. These aren’t profound throughout the game, but are only recognized once you reach the final level, where the game pushes the entire art style behind and uses a more abstract, platform-y vibe. This isn’t at all a bad thing; these final areas were actually one of my favorite parts of the game, which is not to say I didn’t enjoy the portion of the game that came before it, but these parts really innovated, pushing more intricate puzzles and ideas, and really, were just more fun. No matter how much I enjoyed the titular “night sky” portion of the game, I would like to see more in the future in vein of the last level.

Variety is one of the game’s high points

To be able to play through all of the last level, you’ll need to collect all twelve stars in the main game. Stars are located in areas marked with a star in the top right corner, and can be found by exploring the level and figuring out how to get to a certain crevasse located within the area. Going back and looking for these stars was also one of the highlights of the game for me. It was easy to spot where you needed to go to get the star, but the challenge was figuring out how to get there. I recommend you go back and get the stars, as it is both enjoyable and rewarding.

Ultimately, I may have mentioned multiple times that x or y was my favourite part, but in the end I really enjoyed everything this game had to offer. There are so many ideas crammed inside this admittedly small game that you’ll never get bored, but you’ll be left wanting more. At ten dollars, the price isn’t exactly cheap for such a short game (it took me about three and a half hours to find all the stars and beat the main game, although there is an alternate mode with a slightly harder challenge), but the experience is so different and fun that it’s worth looking past its shortcomings. It definitely deserves to be played by as many people as possible.

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