Humble Bundle with Android 5 ReviewGuest_Jim_* - March 10, 2013
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NightSky HD Review:
NightSky is best described as a physics puzzler with an artistic side. The story goes that you found an odd ball one day and decided to take it home, because that is what you do after all. After taking it home though, you start having, "the strangest dreams about surreal places and experiences."
From what I've played of it thus far, I am not sure I would call the game surreal, but the game-world can definitely be called strange. (Closure, from the Humble Indie Bundle 7 was surreal.) While the world may not be surreal though, the gameplay mechanics are. You play as the ball you found, trying to roll to the exit on the right side of the screen, and helping you are the ball's special powers; increase friction, decrease friction, gravity reversal, and perhaps more. Also as you play you will find things in the environment you can control, such as blocks that vanish on your command and pinball flippers. Depending on the level you are on, the ball's powers may be disabled, changed, or persistent. For example there is a level where increased friction is always on, and you do not have the decrease friction power.
The controls for the game immediately demonstrate that this game was designed for mobile devices. On my phone I had the options of swiping the screen to move the ball, tilting the phone, and 'digital' controls which put buttons on the screen. I have found the digital controls to be the best simply because they are much easier to control than swiping. After all, it is much easier to hold a button down than holding a swipe on a screen.
Controls for the PC though are set as the arrow keys for movement and the 'A' and 'S' keys for the powers. You cannot change them, and that is what I meant by demonstrating this game was designed for mobile devices. Other options are also limited such as the video options which are just 'Fullscreen' and 'Windowed.'
The graphics are minimalist with almost everything being black and the singular exception is the background which is typically a skyscape. The graphic of the ball also changes to indicate what you are doing with it. Increased friction fills it with an orange hue while decreased friction adds what almost looks like a bright blue and white galaxy spinning within, and inverting gravity introduces a purple coloring to the ball. I am not sure what caused it but I did notice some stuttering on my smartphone at one point.
The soundtrack is somewhat calming and unobtrusive. I listen to the soundtracks of the games as I write their sections in this review and I have found myself forgetting this soundtrack is playing. That is not necessarily a bad thing though! If anything that speaks to the calming nature of the music and you also would not want an exhilarating soundtrack while you try to carefully manipulate the ball. There are puzzles in the game you want to be able to focus to get things just right, and an epic soundtrack would be distracting at those times.
Is NightSky the gem of this bundle that will invade your dreams? It might for you, but not for me. While the gameplay is definitely fun, and I will very likely work through the entire game before too long, it has not done anything to impress me. The puzzles seem contrived with carefully crafted solutions, making the gameplay somewhat simplistic, because once you see the puzzle you will know what to do. At least that has been my experience thus far. It is still an enjoyable experience to play the NightSky, but it is not the kind of game you will want to set aside much time to play. Instead, play it on commutes or when you just have too much time on your hands.