NightSky is a stylish puzzle/platformer which relies heavily on physics and interaction with the environment. While it is not a long game, two playthroughs can be squeezed out easily thanks to the game’s brilliant difficulty curve and charm.
The premise is simple, yet allows for so much variety in gameplay: get the ball to the end of the screen. This can be achieved in many ways: often it is a test of your platforming skills and ability to handle the physics employed by the developers, however the addition of vehicles, cannons, hammers, moving platforms and more ensures every level offers something different and makes the harder levels rewarding to finish.
The first few worlds introduce you to the core mechanics of the game and set the stage for new elements to be introduced gradually. Eventually, it gets to a point where as well as testing the platforming skills of the player, NightSky tests the mind, offering a bunch of puzzles which at times get rather tough.
To aid the player, the ball has a few of its own special powers, which can be used in some cases but not others. These include the ability to brake quickly and stick to some surfaces, blistering speed and even the reversal of gravity! The incorporation of these elements is balanced and not a single one of them is overpowered enough to ruin the challenge.
All the levels are bunched up into worlds based on a theme and the level of difficulty, although often players won’t know what’s coming up next. This element of surprise keeps the game fresh. Once all the worlds are beaten, the player can play through the game once again in ‘alternative mode’, which features the same worlds, with different level layouts and even trickier puzzles.
One of the many lovely aspects of the game is that beating one world will often unlock two more – meaning that if you get stuck in a level in one world, you can leave, beat another world and come back with a fresh mind. It never feels like a chore to try and beat a particularly hard level, and so NightSky is far less frustrating than most puzzle/platformers.
The presentation is every bit as good as the smooth gameplay. The soundtrack is fitting, and combines with the quiet whispering of wind and momentary silence to create a very surreal atmosphere. This is enhanced by minimalistic visuals which use soft gradients and glows to produce one of the cleanest-looking games around.
The best way to describe this game is that everything just works. The physics are smooth and consistent and gave the developer a large number of ideas to work with. This is reflected in the level design, which was very well thought-out and offers plenty in terms of variety and difficulty. While the initial playthrough may not take a long time, the second is far more challenging. As a complete product, it is very satisfying to beat NightSky.
NightSky reinvigorates the puzzle/platform genre, showing that flashy visuals are not needed to suck players in and that physics can make or break a game. In this case, it makes it, offering one of the more consistent experiences available on the Steam platform. This title can be played be anyone and enjoyed by anyone, so it’s wholly recommended that you give NightSky a go.