I can’t remember exactly when I first played 2012’s Journey. What I do remember, to this day, is my first playthrough of the main story. In Journey, the game matches you with strangers. They can come in for a brief moment or two, or stay for the entire two to three-hour experience. In my case, I was joined by a player who I later learned was from halfway across the world. Together, we experience the entire game together. Journey is a beautiful game on its own, but it’s best played with others.
Almost eight years later, Journey creator Thatgamecompany is back with its latest game, Sky: Children of the Light. I haven’t played enough of Sky to know if it will, like its illustrious predecessor, leave an indelible mark on me, but what I have experienced is promising.
Like Journey before it, Sky plays out more like a religious experience than a game; there are no enemies to vanquish and no villains to thwart. Instead, players traverse a sparse, Miyazaki-inspired fantasy world, walking, skipping and, most of all, flying through the desiccated remains of a long-gone civilization as they progress the story, solve puzzles and interact with other players. Abstract shapes, light and audio cues help guide the player through the world, which is richly detailed and full of mystery. Each scene and vista is a visual feast.
With each important narrative and gameplay beat, a swell of orchestral music pulls at the heartstrings. “More than half of the experience is sound,” proclaims Thatgamecompany, recommending you play the game with headphones.
This time around, the action plays out on the small screen of an iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. At the moment, this is both Sky‘s greatest strength and weakness. There’s an intimacy to Sky that didn’t exist with Journey since it was a PlayStation title, and my daily TTC commute has been made more awe-inspiring by Sky‘s presence in it. That said, the usual frustrations with third-person games on mobile arise.
At least at lunch, Sky doesn’t include controller support, which is a particularly strange omission when Thatgamecompany has already said it plans to port the game to other platforms, including PC and consoles. The touch controls are passable at best. More often than not, each time I wanted to experience the majesty of Sky‘s world I felt like I had to fight against the controls to aim the camera. My recommendation is if you can’t wait to play Sky, play it on an iPad if you have access to one. Otherwise, wait for the game to make its way to consoles.
Thankfully, in the time I’ve played it, Sky appears to have avoided the worse tendencies of other mobile titles. It’s a free-to-play game with microtransaction, though they don’t appear to be required to enjoy the game’s story and the game doesn’t push you to purchase them.
If you want to play one of the most beautiful games on iOS currently, give Sky a chance. Download Sky: Children of the Light from the app store.