Review: 'Sky - Children of the Light' has arrived on the iPhone and iPad

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 21
The much anticipated Sky: Children of the Light has finally made it to the iPhone and iPad. Here's our look into the whimsical, beautiful, and playful puzzle-adventure game.

Sky: Children of the Light


I was one of the people who was waiting for Sky: Children of the Light to release. Now that it has, I've decided to take a look into what the game has to offer.

I had sort of known what to expect, as I'd played some other games by thatgamecompany, the studio who brought Sky to life. I was expecting a polished game that looked good and bypassed difficulty for an immersive experience and some new twists on gameplay.

I was not disappointed.

I didn't have as much time to play Sky as I had wanted, but the appeal of the game is that it's very much a "pick up and play for a while" title. I hope to play more Sky in the near future, though I do have some concern about the longevity of the game.

Sky is a truly beautiful game.

A real looker

Sky is probably one of the best looking games I've seen in a long time. Not "best looking game on a cell phone" but "best looking game, period." It's hard to believe that the game is running on iOS.

Thatgamecompany, the studio that made Sky, has long been lauded for games that look genuinely beautiful, and that's no different here.

Everything from the colors to the character design, the environment to the cut scenes definitely feels as though some serious thought and care went into making it.

In fact, I am extremely impressed with the character design in this game. The player characters, which can be customized by unlocking items via "quests" of sorts, are impish and lively. The non-player characters are full of character and move with emotion and purpose.

Sky, walking among the dunes

Controls

The controls for Sky are... okay. It's not a game that requires a lot of fine motor control by any means-- it's pretty forgiving, even if you're having as much difficulty as I did. I do think that the game will be better served in iPadOS 13, when players will be able to pair a Bluetooth gamepad, like a PS4 or XBox One controller, with their iPad.

You see, I had originally started playing Sky on an iPhone 8 plus, and I found the controls manageable. However, I wanted to take big, beautiful screenshots of the game, so I switched over to an 12.9-inch iPad Pro. I do not recommend the dual-stick style controls for larger screens. I found the screen much too large to easily control the character, and often found myself tumbling and falling or running into walls when I'd try to fly.

The one-button play works better on larger screens, but I still recommend a two-button layout on something the size of an iPhone or iPad Mini. Then again, your mileage may vary.

Meeting up with other players to complete puzzles

A strange sort of social

So, the selling point of Sky is that you'll be able to play with other characters, which I find interesting. The game doesn't allow for a lot of communication, so most of it will be done through emotes, or tapping on your character to make them make a noise. The noise, by the way, is vaguely saxophone honk-like-- but in a cute way. The emotes cover a wide range of actions, but the ones I saw being used most often were high-fiving, holding hands, and hugging.

You can communicate via text to characters if you both sit on a stone bench together. However, there aren't a lot of benches in-world.

Of course, you can invite people you know to play with you, through a sort of weird QR-code system that I didn't get a chance to test out.

However, there's something to be said for the lack of verbal -- or textual -- communication in Sky. It adds to the fun, and it certainly compliments the theme. It also makes the game all-ages friendly, which is great, because Sky is a casual game, after all, and should be enjoyed by all players, regardless of skill.

Completing puzzles to unlock cutscenes

Gameplay

Without spoiling anything, Sky is a game that requires players to solve puzzles, but in a "almost like Spyro" sort of way. A lot of it involves exploration, some of it involves teamwork, and most of it involves being able to accurately respond to the environment the game is putting you in. Find a candle? Light it. Find a locked door? Figure out how to unlock it. Do these things, and you'll be rewarded with character upgrades, in-game currency, and cosmetics.

Again, this isn't a hard game, and it's not going to let you fail miserably. Sky isn't that kind of a game.

On the issue of longevity

If you're looking to play Sky, I highly suggest hopping into it now. Sky comes equipped with a fair amount of puzzles that must be completed with multiple players, so I'm a little concerned that the total lifespan of the game may be a bit short. It's a beautiful game, and it's free, so if you've been holding out I absolutely recommend that you grab a couple of friends and hop in now.

Take on challenges together

And IAP...

Sky isn't exactly free free. It's free-to-play. This means it comes with some sort of system that is designed to extract money out of you. However, in Sky, the IAP feels less aggressive than others.

In Sky, you can purchase candle charges in the event that you don't have enough to perform certain tasks -- like adding a stranger to your friends list, upgrade your character, and purchase the game's second currency: hearts. However, you can also find these candles in the wild. The hearts are the main currency that players are after, as they allow you to purchase cosmetic items, including masks, wings, instruments, and more. However, you can get hearts from other players, if you're lucky.

Overall takeaway

Sky is an impossibly cute game that gives equal consideration to both the social aspects of playing a game as well as the importance of exploration. I think that, if you were able to wrangle in two or three additional friends to play with you, the experience would be even better. I recommend checking it out, even if just to play for a short amount of time.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,389member
    Looks cool. Too bad they went with IAP model.
    xyzzy01StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    Is multi-player mandatory or can I just play the whole game all by myself?
  • Reply 3 of 13
    wocowboywocowboy Posts: 3unconfirmed, member
    Sky, like its predecessor Journey, is a beautiful game.   But unlike its predecessor, it is cryptic, non-intuitive, and just about impossible to figure out.   I played it for a few hours in various sessions over the weekend, and after all that, I still have no idea what the game is about, what one is supposed to do, or how to do it.   And from the conversations I had with others using the in-game chat, no one else can figure it out either.   There are no instructions, icons of various things pop up all the time with no explanation as to what they mean or if they are even actionable.  Something happens when you click on some of those icons but I don't know what is happening.   Charts of icons appear at times, with some of them pulsating, I assume wanting you to click on them.  So I did and something happened, I'm not sure what or what it triggered.   After these hours of trying to figure it out, I got tired of it and deleted the game.   No game should be this hard to figure out.  Everyone else who was playing was saying the same thing in our chats.  I appreciate the attempt at building a game that contains a strong social component, but when all your time using that social component is asking each other what we are supposed to be doing, something has gone terribly wrong.   I loved Journey, and still play through it from time to time, but the difference is that it is easy to learn, has a definite story line, and you quickly figure out what to do to advance your story along.
    ravnorodommacplusplus
  • Reply 4 of 13
    But unlike its predecessor, it is cryptic, non-intuitive, and just about impossible to figure out.
    The beginning of the game provides a short tutorial on the story, controls and the basics of what you're supposed to be doing. After that, you are going to have to figure some things out for yourself, but that's true of most games. Generally speaking, looking for the on-screen icons, interacting with them, and observing what happens will eventually clue you in. There's some mystery to it, but that's not a bad thing in a quasi-adventure game.
    edited July 22 StrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 13
    Sanctum1972Sanctum1972 Posts: 94unconfirmed, member
    wocowboy said:
    Sky, like its predecessor Journey, is a beautiful game.   But unlike its predecessor, it is cryptic, non-intuitive, and just about impossible to figure out.   I played it for a few hours in various sessions over the weekend, and after all that, I still have no idea what the game is about, what one is supposed to do, or how to do it.   And from the conversations I had with others using the in-game chat, no one else can figure it out either.   There are no instructions, icons of various things pop up all the time with no explanation as to what they mean or if they are even actionable.  Something happens when you click on some of those icons but I don't know what is happening.   Charts of icons appear at times, with some of them pulsating, I assume wanting you to click on them.  So I did and something happened, I'm not sure what or what it triggered.   After these hours of trying to figure it out, I got tired of it and deleted the game.   No game should be this hard to figure out.  Everyone else who was playing was saying the same thing in our chats.  I appreciate the attempt at building a game that contains a strong social component, but when all your time using that social component is asking each other what we are supposed to be doing, something has gone terribly wrong.   I loved Journey, and still play through it from time to time, but the difference is that it is easy to learn, has a definite story line, and you quickly figure out what to do to advance your story along.
    I played Journey which was a masterpiece on my PS-3 but Sky is also an evolved version of that with some depth, I believe. It did get confusing for a bit at the beginning but I got the hang of it and am still learning. I think the game is similar to Skyrim in that you can go anywhere you want at your own pace without a timer or such. It's a charming game, nonetheless and the behavior cues for the characters are easy to follow if you tap on the icons to react to. 

    I believe it's supposed to be a mystery as you go along. It's not so different than the classic Hacker game that came out for the Commodore 64 in the 1980s. It was a cult classic because it did not come with a manual and players had to really figure it out on their own. But Sky's UI is easy to follow and if you tap on the ? icon, it shows the instructions. Think of Sky as a storybook to go along with. 

    The constellations on the sky in the 'home' level is not so different than Skyrim's but with a different purpose to invite or leave a message to fellow online friends who you shared candles with, etc. And to complete the constellations. The expressions, I believe, are used to express to others by means of communication or to activate certain puzzles. If you watch the other live players, just follow along with them because they most likely will do the heavy lifting for you or help you out. Two days ago, I saw a bunch of them running around asking for candles to be lighted or adding a friend. If you fly among the clouds, you can 'power' up by flying close to them or birds/flames/stars. You won't fall through the clouds to the ground but you'll need continue to progress to level up your flying 'endurance' icon as it gets larger over time allowing you be in the sky for longer periods. 

    Right now I just got a new Eve Online account out of curiosity and my god is THIS game much more complex that Sky. They weren't kidding. 
  • Reply 6 of 13
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 277member
    Is multi-player mandatory or can I just play the whole game all by myself?
    Looks like the multiplayer is mandatory, yes. I just tried launching in Airplane mode, and it complained it couldn't connect to the server.

    That said, the multiplayer isn't the traditional kids-shouting-slurs-at-you kind in a lot of current games. As far as I can tell, players can't interfere with each other, only assist. There are some moments when you need eight players to activate a thing, and the other players don't see what needs be done, but those are pretty rare. I've only run into one thing which requires eight players working together and maybe six things which require two players.

    There are a few areas with enemies. They take charge from your cape, which determines how long you can fly. If they take all your charge, you just have to find your way to a light. This brings up one of the ways players can directly assist one another. You have a candle which you can share with other players. This recharges their cape.

    I'm finding this game simpler than Journey. When you chirp, it shows you where you need to go to move on to the next part of the world, as well as the locations of other players in this section with you. As you look around, you can see bright spots which are the people you're trying to help. I haven't yet seen a way to lose cape charge capacity, whereas in Journey, the giant, flying, stone snakes reduce the length of your scarf when they hit you.
    bestkeptsecret
  • Reply 7 of 13
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,498unconfirmed, member
    Still waiting for this Apple TV launch game lol.

    zimmie said:
    Is multi-player mandatory or can I just play the whole game all by myself?
    Looks like the multiplayer is mandatory, yes. I just tried launching in Airplane mode, and it complained it couldn't connect to the server.

    That said, the multiplayer isn't the traditional kids-shouting-slurs-at-you kind in a lot of current games. As far as I can tell, players can't interfere with each other, only assist. There are some moments when you need eight players to activate a thing, and the other players don't see what needs be done, but those are pretty rare. I've only run into one thing which requires eight players working together and maybe six things which require two players.

    There are a few areas with enemies. They take charge from your cape, which determines how long you can fly. If they take all your charge, you just have to find your way to a light. This brings up one of the ways players can directly assist one another. You have a candle which you can share with other players. This recharges their cape.

    I'm finding this game simpler than Journey. When you chirp, it shows you where you need to go to move on to the next part of the world, as well as the locations of other players in this section with you. As you look around, you can see bright spots which are the people you're trying to help. I haven't yet seen a way to lose cape charge capacity, whereas in Journey, the giant, flying, stone snakes reduce the length of your scarf when they hit you.

    So is Apple not allowing online chat? With Airpods you'd think they'd be exploiting this.

    Nintendo hates voice chat so they have these really creative ways of communicating. In Triforce Heroes they have this cute communications system where players can whistle at each other, give piggyback rides to reach higher items etc. It freaking WORKS.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhArqXFNPYg
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    Sanctum1972Sanctum1972 Posts: 94unconfirmed, member
    Still waiting for this Apple TV launch game lol.

    zimmie said:
    Is multi-player mandatory or can I just play the whole game all by myself?
    Looks like the multiplayer is mandatory, yes. I just tried launching in Airplane mode, and it complained it couldn't connect to the server.

    That said, the multiplayer isn't the traditional kids-shouting-slurs-at-you kind in a lot of current games. As far as I can tell, players can't interfere with each other, only assist. There are some moments when you need eight players to activate a thing, and the other players don't see what needs be done, but those are pretty rare. I've only run into one thing which requires eight players working together and maybe six things which require two players.

    There are a few areas with enemies. They take charge from your cape, which determines how long you can fly. If they take all your charge, you just have to find your way to a light. This brings up one of the ways players can directly assist one another. You have a candle which you can share with other players. This recharges their cape.

    I'm finding this game simpler than Journey. When you chirp, it shows you where you need to go to move on to the next part of the world, as well as the locations of other players in this section with you. As you look around, you can see bright spots which are the people you're trying to help. I haven't yet seen a way to lose cape charge capacity, whereas in Journey, the giant, flying, stone snakes reduce the length of your scarf when they hit you.

    So is Apple not allowing online chat? With Airpods you'd think they'd be exploiting this.

    Nintendo hates voice chat so they have these really creative ways of communicating. In Triforce Heroes they have this cute communications system where players can whistle at each other, give piggyback rides to reach higher items etc. It freaking WORKS.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhArqXFNPYg
    Having voice chat via Sky would be a problem. As a deaf gamer, I prefer using text so I can see what they're saying. In Sky, you can communicate using tonal sounds by tapping on your own character as a way to signal to others or using communicative cues in the game. As for Apple TV games, I'm not a fan of it and rather get an XBox One due to some major titles coming up for 2020 especially Cyberpunk 2077. 
  • Reply 9 of 13
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 277member
    Still waiting for this Apple TV launch game lol.

    zimmie said:
    Is multi-player mandatory or can I just play the whole game all by myself?
    Looks like the multiplayer is mandatory, yes. I just tried launching in Airplane mode, and it complained it couldn't connect to the server.

    That said, the multiplayer isn't the traditional kids-shouting-slurs-at-you kind in a lot of current games. As far as I can tell, players can't interfere with each other, only assist. There are some moments when you need eight players to activate a thing, and the other players don't see what needs be done, but those are pretty rare. I've only run into one thing which requires eight players working together and maybe six things which require two players.

    There are a few areas with enemies. They take charge from your cape, which determines how long you can fly. If they take all your charge, you just have to find your way to a light. This brings up one of the ways players can directly assist one another. You have a candle which you can share with other players. This recharges their cape.

    I'm finding this game simpler than Journey. When you chirp, it shows you where you need to go to move on to the next part of the world, as well as the locations of other players in this section with you. As you look around, you can see bright spots which are the people you're trying to help. I haven't yet seen a way to lose cape charge capacity, whereas in Journey, the giant, flying, stone snakes reduce the length of your scarf when they hit you.

    So is Apple not allowing online chat? With Airpods you'd think they'd be exploiting this.

    Nintendo hates voice chat so they have these really creative ways of communicating. In Triforce Heroes they have this cute communications system where players can whistle at each other, give piggyback rides to reach higher items etc. It freaking WORKS.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhArqXFNPYg
    It's not that Apple doesn't allow it. It's that a no-voice system completely bypasses significant amounts of griefing while also being more accessible. Plenty of other games have in-game audio chat.

    The chirps also have an in-game purpose beyond just signaling other players. They attract "creatures of light" nearby, who then move to you and recharge your cape.

    I expect this will be quite a hit on the Apple TV, and an excellent demo of the controller support. It's gorgeous.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    crowleycrowley Posts: 6,017member
    So is Apple not allowing online chat? With Airpods you'd think they'd be exploiting this.
    Voice Chat is included in Game Center, so Sky could have it if they wanted it, but they don't want it.  Journey didn't have voice chat either, despite the PS4 supporting it, the game isn't about that kind of direct communciations, it's more impressionistic.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,498unconfirmed, member
    Still waiting for this Apple TV launch game lol.

    zimmie said:
    Is multi-player mandatory or can I just play the whole game all by myself?
    Looks like the multiplayer is mandatory, yes. I just tried launching in Airplane mode, and it complained it couldn't connect to the server.

    That said, the multiplayer isn't the traditional kids-shouting-slurs-at-you kind in a lot of current games. As far as I can tell, players can't interfere with each other, only assist. There are some moments when you need eight players to activate a thing, and the other players don't see what needs be done, but those are pretty rare. I've only run into one thing which requires eight players working together and maybe six things which require two players.

    There are a few areas with enemies. They take charge from your cape, which determines how long you can fly. If they take all your charge, you just have to find your way to a light. This brings up one of the ways players can directly assist one another. You have a candle which you can share with other players. This recharges their cape.

    I'm finding this game simpler than Journey. When you chirp, it shows you where you need to go to move on to the next part of the world, as well as the locations of other players in this section with you. As you look around, you can see bright spots which are the people you're trying to help. I haven't yet seen a way to lose cape charge capacity, whereas in Journey, the giant, flying, stone snakes reduce the length of your scarf when they hit you.

    So is Apple not allowing online chat? With Airpods you'd think they'd be exploiting this.

    Nintendo hates voice chat so they have these really creative ways of communicating. In Triforce Heroes they have this cute communications system where players can whistle at each other, give piggyback rides to reach higher items etc. It freaking WORKS.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhArqXFNPYg
    Having voice chat via Sky would be a problem. As a deaf gamer, I prefer using text so I can see what they're saying. In Sky, you can communicate using tonal sounds by tapping on your own character as a way to signal to others or using communicative cues in the game. As for Apple TV games, I'm not a fan of it and rather get an XBox One due to some major titles coming up for 2020 especially Cyberpunk 2077. 

    So as a deaf gamer why do you prefer the tonal sounds? Do they have visual cues?

    And yeah Apple TV can run some great games but no developer seems to care.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 13
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,161member
    wocowboy said:
    Sky, like its predecessor Journey, is a beautiful game.   But unlike its predecessor, it is cryptic, non-intuitive, and just about impossible to figure out.   I played it for a few hours in various sessions over the weekend, and after all that, I still have no idea what the game is about, what one is supposed to do, or how to do it.   And from the conversations I had with others using the in-game chat, no one else can figure it out either.   There are no instructions, icons of various things pop up all the time with no explanation as to what they mean or if they are even actionable.  Something happens when you click on some of those icons but I don't know what is happening.   Charts of icons appear at times, with some of them pulsating, I assume wanting you to click on them.  So I did and something happened, I'm not sure what or what it triggered.   After these hours of trying to figure it out, I got tired of it and deleted the game.   No game should be this hard to figure out.  Everyone else who was playing was saying the same thing in our chats.  I appreciate the attempt at building a game that contains a strong social component, but when all your time using that social component is asking each other what we are supposed to be doing, something has gone terribly wrong.   I loved Journey, and still play through it from time to time, but the difference is that it is easy to learn, has a definite story line, and you quickly figure out what to do to advance your story along.
    I finished Journey in one sitting, and it was indeed beautiful. the social aspect of that was compelling in that several users I encountered throughout showed me how to get past certain parts. Maybe you just need to get matched with users that have played through more parts of the game?
    edited July 22 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 13
    Sanctum1972Sanctum1972 Posts: 94unconfirmed, member
    Still waiting for this Apple TV launch game lol.

    zimmie said:
    Is multi-player mandatory or can I just play the whole game all by myself?
    Looks like the multiplayer is mandatory, yes. I just tried launching in Airplane mode, and it complained it couldn't connect to the server.

    That said, the multiplayer isn't the traditional kids-shouting-slurs-at-you kind in a lot of current games. As far as I can tell, players can't interfere with each other, only assist. There are some moments when you need eight players to activate a thing, and the other players don't see what needs be done, but those are pretty rare. I've only run into one thing which requires eight players working together and maybe six things which require two players.

    There are a few areas with enemies. They take charge from your cape, which determines how long you can fly. If they take all your charge, you just have to find your way to a light. This brings up one of the ways players can directly assist one another. You have a candle which you can share with other players. This recharges their cape.

    I'm finding this game simpler than Journey. When you chirp, it shows you where you need to go to move on to the next part of the world, as well as the locations of other players in this section with you. As you look around, you can see bright spots which are the people you're trying to help. I haven't yet seen a way to lose cape charge capacity, whereas in Journey, the giant, flying, stone snakes reduce the length of your scarf when they hit you.

    So is Apple not allowing online chat? With Airpods you'd think they'd be exploiting this.

    Nintendo hates voice chat so they have these really creative ways of communicating. In Triforce Heroes they have this cute communications system where players can whistle at each other, give piggyback rides to reach higher items etc. It freaking WORKS.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhArqXFNPYg
    Having voice chat via Sky would be a problem. As a deaf gamer, I prefer using text so I can see what they're saying. In Sky, you can communicate using tonal sounds by tapping on your own character as a way to signal to others or using communicative cues in the game. As for Apple TV games, I'm not a fan of it and rather get an XBox One due to some major titles coming up for 2020 especially Cyberpunk 2077. 

    So as a deaf gamer why do you prefer the tonal sounds? Do they have visual cues?

    And yeah Apple TV can run some great games but no developer seems to care.
    Yes they do. In fact, if you tap on the Sky character, you'll see an echolation sphere coming out of him/her, kind of like a sonar ping. It's not just the sound but the visual effects that represent the cues which works. 
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