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It's amazing how controls can affect a game. Dave played Nightsky on the PC, and while
using the arrow keys to move the orb was adequate, there was something lacking, and the whole
experience didn't really leave a lasting impression. Now we have the iOS port, and with the addition
of tilt controls (as well as other options), this atmospheric simple physics journey starts
to really shine.
The game starts with the player finding a mysterious orb on the beach. As you would,
he takes the orb back home with him, but then starts to have the strangest dreams. These
visions are where the game takes place. We don't know where the orb is headed or why
it wants to get there, but it's our job as the player to help it on its way. Each level
is only a couple screens, usually introducing or including one element of the game. The
tilt controls are the recommended method (although the game starts in swipe mode), and tilting
the phone rolls the orb right or left. There is a lot of nuance in the tilting for when
you need to be more exact in your movements. The x in the left hand corner aids this by
acting as a brake, while the o in the right corner changes based on what the level calls
for. Sometimes it speeds you up, sometimes it reverses gravity. Little changes like this,
including small elements of physics puzzles make the game feel different in subtle ways
from stage to stage.
But it's the atmosphere that is the most striking element. The game seems to exist in perpetual
sunset, with dull yet beautiful colors washing the backgrounds, contrasting the stark black
of the playing field. The music is ambient, invoking a peaceful play state, yet perhaps
a sense of unease.
For those who breeze through the main game, there's an alternative mode with harder puzzles,
that basically creates a unique second playthrough. It really is astonishing how changing the
control method completely changed perception of the game, but perhaps not. The way we interact
with these game worlds is very important. It took a port, but Nightsky got it right,
and those looking for a short, yet simple intriguing experience would do well to give
this a try. It might surprise you.