Nightsky is the first indie game I’m reviewing and there is a good reason for that: it’s a perfect action driven puzzle platformer videogame. it flawlessly combines platformer jumping physics with smart puzzle solving. Simple, without added complexity. It was developed by Nicalis, for sure one of the best developers out there.
There are lots of good points to discuss, so I’ll review the two styles separately:
- As in any platformer, the game is skill driven. You’re supposed react quickly, learn from practice and adapt to new challenges.
- The controls are great. As you’d expect on a modern game, the movements are fluid and precise.
- The physics are good. You can predict the outcome of an action. E.g. outcome can be predicted by the force with you push a platform or the momentum you carry before a jump. After some practice, you usually know if you did it right even before releasing the key.
- There are 3 special powers: freeze, turbo and antigravity. Sometimes the game forces a special power active all time.
- There are lots of levels and the level design is varied.
- There are no enemies, which is nice. No lives. Just yourself against the challenges.
- Difficulty for jumps is finely tuned. It grows as you advance levels.
- There are vehicles. Sometimes, the ball is attached, other times you must ride them. But physics are always involved when driving or riding them.
- As in any puzzle game, you’re supposed to stop and think out of the box and slow down when skill is not enough.
- The levels can sometimes be solved on more than one way, this usually depends on the complexity or physics involved.
- Puzzles are varied:
- Some rely on turning switches on a concrete order, so those can just be solved by try-fail.
- There are cannons that shoot balls to use to make bridges or help jumping.
- Some puzzles rely on slowing or speeding and proper physics understanding.
- Other rely on just using the skills right.
- OST is relaxed and cool, good for puzzle solving. It feels dreamlike, like the background images.
- Game tries to be flexible enough on platforming skills: e.g. if you need 4 balls but you have to stop them on air, you will receive some more to pass the level even if you make a mistake.
- There are pinball levels. There are even multi-ball puzzles!
- Graphics are totally awesome. There is a strange mix of gradients backgrounds and shadowy scenes with some sad and some cute images. There is usually a theme (forest, city, cave, etc). Everything performed without abuse of lighting or colors as you can usually see on platformers. And shadows without relying to just plain black & white like in Limbo.
- Difficulty curve is great. You are slowly introduced to each skill and the puzzles become more difficult and varied as you advance. When you finish the normal levels, there is a hard mode (called Alternate) with minor changes to the same levels.
- Secret exit: some levels have got a second exit which will net you a collectible star if found. You need 12 stars to unlock the last world. Those levels are shown on level selection and is it’s an easy task.
- Game uses it’s ingredients so well than everything feels new on every level.
Nightsky flaws? Well, I consider the game perfect as is.
The jumps aren’t so hard, everything can be done by practice and playing smart. Puzzles aren’t hard at all, the game is not going to keep you stuck long and you won’t need to rely to guides to solve anything.
It’s not a hardcore game. Not totally casual too, as you need some skill, but you won’t need near light-speed reflexes to pass every level.
Why to play?
It’s a fun game and it’s long enough for a platformer. Levels are varied and it’s more than just a plarformer game.
How to acquire
You can buy Nighsky for PC in Steam.
Version / Platform
I reviewed Nightsky for PC / Mac. As far as I know, there is a port for Nintendo 3DS, I’m unsure about other consoles.
It’s not likely we’ll get a sequel for this game. I don’t think either there will be a remaster as the game is already modern and there is little room for improvement. Yet I’d be looking forward any news from Nicalis.
Games like Nightsky
I’ll list few indie platformers that are worth looking into:
- Ibb & Obb: this is focused on 2 player cooperative jump puzzle solving. Game art relies on gradients too but with more cute things and color. It’s not very far on concept, so you could like this game too.
- Limbo: very well known indie platformer that centers on a shadowy black&white art.
- Nimbus: this is a platformer more fast paced and focused on time trials.
- Aquaria: this one is underwater and focused on exploration, but here there is combat and puzzles.
- Portal: the gameplay relies on physics to resolve puzzles, but it’s 3D and you can use portals to teleport.
If you like platformers or simple puzzle resolving, you’re guaranteed to have a good time with this game.
I’ve played it for years and it’s totally worth it.