Alone in the Dark: NightSky

Nov 06, 2012 No Comments by

In the lonely dark of Hurricane Sandy, I booted up my netbook and looked for something to pass the time. What I found was a deeply ambient and evocative experience that’d been hiding in my Steam library for far too long. NightSky’s an adventure through masterfully designed environments that sets itself apart.

At first glance, NightSky’s a game where you roll around as a little black ball and use physics to progress. The Steam store page goes into more depth about similar details: “Multiple difficulties with unique topography”, “Advanced 2D physics model”, “2D platform/puzzle-based gameplay”.

None of these are wrong, per se. All of the above are contained in the game. However, if you just read the Key Features section on Steam and little else, you’d be right to roll right past it. In reality, NightSky’s not about any of the above. They’re all tools the game uses to take you through a dream – a world – that made me forget I was playing a game.

In a market where the most successful games are bombastic and spectacular, NightSky is remarkably subtle, using black, white, and background gradients of color to paint the landscape. Screenshots alone don’t convey how lively the environment is; the world is always moving around you. Watching the grass sway, you can almost feel the wind.

More ambient than invigorating, the soundtrack feels like echoes of life. Acoustic guitar and other instruments set a hushed tone, using silence just as much as sound.

The game is, of course, not without its problems. It’s fixed at an abysmally low resolution, (note: this has since been fixed) and the “alternative” mode – hard mode, essentially – is more frustrating than challenging, and often feels like it misses the point of NightSky altogether. I’d play Super Meat Boy if I wanted to be punished for pinpoint execution; NightSky’s more about exploration, captivation, and inner peace.

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About the author

Amateur games journalist looking to expand his portfolio. When I'm not writing for Super Combo, I'm editing articles for others or goofing around in Dota 2. If you enjoyed the article, let me know! I always appreciate feedback. You can learn more about me at WillUhl.com.
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