NightSky is a curious game. Once again treading the blurred line between games and art, this Nintendo eShop release from Nicalis is described by the publisher as “an ambient gameplay experience unlike any other.”
Indeed it is, with Nicklas Nygren’s design direction resulting in a physics based puzzler that sees players manoeuvre a spherical ball through darkened, picturesque worlds, each presenting their own level of challenge.
The atmosphere is an immediate accomplishment here, experimental jazz musician Chris Schlarb’s soundtrack fusing with the game’s explorative styling to arrive at a commendable whole. Coupled with responsive physics, navigating through NightSky’s worlds proves memorable.
Apparent simplicity soon becomes confounded by more complex puzzles, the game introducing new mechanics at regular intervals that allow you to surpass obstacles.
Your progression through the game’s 2D planes soon involving the use of the sphere’s abilities as necessary, which govern accelerate, brake, or reverse gravity.
There are interactive elements designated throughout the environments as well, a quick tap of the A button firing cannons, releasing crates, and swinging hammers.
There’s no complication besides the puzzles themselves either, no enemies bounding toward you as you struggle to determine how to travel from one screen to the next. You’ll be rolling along on skateboards, past silhouetted villages, and through orchards to your eventual goal.
However, what could have been a fanciful journey soon becomes marred by inconsistency in difficulty that frustrates more than it needs to. Solutions to puzzles, designed to get you head-scratching, can become maybe too perplexing. Hitting the X button will soon become overly familiar, allowing you to reset the game back to your nearest checkpoint.
NightSky in entirety though, beyond its irregular frustrations, is a magical journey, the likes of which doesn’t come along often. We certainly are grateful that there are developers out there that seek to charter boundaries that exist beyond what is usually expected.