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Review: Nightsky

Table of Contents

Quick Info

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Additional Notes
This game is also available for Linux!


[view screenshot]
Navigating some hanging weights

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These boards are balanced carefully

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Spinning gears makes this Alternate level hard to navigate

General Information

Genre:Physics Puzzle / Platformer ESRB Rating:NR - Not Rated
License:Commercial My Rating:Everyone
Played on:Martha
Available from: Humble Store, Steam

General Notes

Marketed as an ambient platform puzzler, Nightsky is a very quiet little game involving a strange little ball rolling around in even stranger world. It's very dreamlike, which fits into the setting perfectly.

Unfortunately, many of the levels are too easy, making it a game that really only appeals to casual gamers.

Story Overview

The narrator opens by recalling how he discovered a strange orb while walking on the beach one evening. Feeling it was alive and important somehow, he carried it home with him.

Since then, he's been having the most surreal dreams. Presumably, these dreams are the levels you'll be playing.

Gameplay Overview

Calling this game a puzzle platformer seems like a bit of a stretch, but that's the closest one can get without coming up with an entirely new genre. The gameplay revolves around rolling your orb through a series of screens. You've beaten the level when it passes beyond the rightmost edge of the third screen.

Each level features a few different objects to interact with, such as ramps, boxes, hinged floors and hanging baskets. Most of the time you simply have your orb roll over them, but sometimes you'll need to activate an object by selecting it and pressing ENTER.

Levels can also allow you to use different "powers". These are assigned to the A and S keys, and can include simple things like the ability to roll faster or brake, but they can also provide stranger functions like reversing the level's gravity.

Additionally, vehicles appear in some levels. When this happens, rolling around will control the vehicle's gears and wheels, allowing you to drive these "cars" or fly different types of fanciful aircraft.


Calm, relaxing gameplay
There are no enemies, nor are the levels timed. Everything moves along at your pace, and you can quit and resume at any time. The only risks you'll be taking involve getting stuck in a place you can't roll out of, or falling out of the level.

Alternate mode provides a challenge
There are two campaigns; a normal set of levels for beginners and players that just want to relax, and an extremely hard alternate set for people that want to be challenged. The story, such as it is, will be the same either way and players are encouraged to try beating both modes.

Steam achievements
For those that enjoy collecting them, there are a number of achievements to earn. These aren't very imaginative, simply being awarded for solving all of the levels in a stage, but not everybody can make it through both campaigns to earn the entire set.


Puzzles are often either too easy or too hard
The levels in the normal campaign are very easy. So much so that it almost feels like a slideshow of surreal backgrounds instead of a game. Most of the negative reviews I've seen come from gamers that wanted to be challenged and were disappointed by what little challenge exists in the normal campaign. On the other hand, the alternate campaign is extremely difficult, sometimes to the point of being unfair.

Unexpected objectives
Chances are pretty good that you'll reach the last stage before you discover any of the hidden stars. The problem with this is that in order to enter the last stage, you need to have found all of them! There's no hint that there's more to Nightsky than rolling the ball until you hit the barriers. Many players didn't know they were supposed to be looking for anything until this point, and don't like having to backtrack to find something.

Bug with the ending cutscene
For some odd reason, the Steam version doesn't show the ending cutscene when you complete the final level. Nobody's quite sure why this is, and since what little plot is present is basically an excuse to roll a ball around, a lot of people don't really mind that it's missing.

Concerns and Issues

None really.
When all you do is roll a little ball around, it's somewhat hard to do something controversial or offensive.