After enchanting iOS gamers, Sky: Children of the Light lands on our Switch and Android devices. Journey’s spiritual successor wowed us when it was released, but is it still worth it on Nintendo’s transportable? Answer in this test.
A virtually identical Switch version
On iOS, Sky was not necessarily a graphic standard, this Switch version suffers from the same pitfalls. It is however possible to change graphics mode on the fly, without having to reload the game, which is quite practical. The graphics mode aims at 30 FPS and slightly refines the models while the performance mode aims at 60 FPS and lowers the resolution. It’s hard to recommend one over the other, because although the visual gain is visible when docked in graphics mode, the framerate lacks stability. The performance mode, meanwhile, is not immune to a one-off drop, but is still much more fluid in general. The choice is up to the player’s preference.
Let us not forget, however, that Sky: Children of the Light is a game that focuses above all on contemplation. Rapid camera movements are virtually nonexistent, so framerate drops are much less disturbing than in other titles.
From a strictly visual point of view, the title does not display textures and models of incredible finesse, but the excellent artistic direction is enough to enchant. Being able to enjoy it on the big screen is a pleasure, especially when flying over stormy seas of clouds. Despite the recessed technique, we are regularly blown away by the panoramas and the impressive cloudy expanses. The controller support is also a significant plus that allows you to enjoy this adventure in very good conditions. Our hero responds with the finger and the eye and the thoughtful shortcuts allow to communicate quickly with other players.
Read the test of 07/28/2019 by MrDeriv
A social trip
A few minutes are enough to know that one puts the fingers on an experiment imagined by thatgamecompany. Its artistic touch immediately recalls that of Journey, just like the fluidity of its movements or its dreamlike soundtrack. But more than a simple emotional ride, Sky: Children of the Light is above all a game, with objectives, secrets to unearth and a progression system inviting the player to always venture further in its different levels.. The title passionately embraces its multiplayer component and offers a series of original and positive interactions, as intelligent as they are discreet for anyone who would like to experience this aerial journey as well as a group or alone.
Remember those unfamiliar silhouettes crossed over your slides in Journey. Other anonymous players who, like you, shared for a while a bit of the road without a surplus of information on the identity of his buddy. Summarized in a few basic interactions like small melodies or the implicit language of movement, it didn’t take much to say a lot and create a real connection, ephemeral certainly, between two strangers. Sky takes this idea on its own and places it at the spearhead of its concept. You will meet dozens of other players during your explorations and communicate with them by means of small melodies, emotes, gifts, even much more direct dialogues. by sitting as a duo on a bench to exchange freely in writing.
The sum of these exchanges quickly creates a feeling of empathy at all times, a positive atmosphere where mutual assistance is favored by multiple rewards.. Up to eight players can spontaneously come together with the idea of helping each other; just approach and tap another character to choose to automatically follow them. Far from having the unpleasant feeling of dragging a ball behind you, you take pleasure in helping others, cooperation is so pleasant and useful in certain situations.
But what do we do in Sky: Children of the Light? The player here embodies a child of light, a small being shrouded in clarity with a cape on his back. The latter echoes the scarf of Journey since it allows you to take flight in the skies. But freedom of movement is much more important here than in the studio’s previous game. Your quest is to restore light through the Seven Dream Realms of this land floating in the heavens.. Each zone, distinguished from the previous one by a unique and captivating visual atmosphere, is separated from the other worlds by a thick sea of clouds to be traversed with the grace of a bird. You can feel yourself growing wings from the first minutes of the adventure thanks to a simple and intuitive handling designed for touch controls. The left thumb emulates a virtual stick while the right is used to rotate the camera or interact with the environment.
Basic in appearance and without much challenge, our exploration of these magical moors aims to find the trace of ancestor spirits lost in the darkness in order to lead them to different constellations where they can find peace. This quest gradually advances an objective bar where each stage unlocks new rewards such as emotes, customization options or new melodies of social interactions. As a being of light, you will have the possibility to reactivate certain torches on your route or to collect candles necessary to improve your movement capacities. A light energy bar, located at the top of the screen, represents both your health gauge and your ability to fly for a limited time. The platform phases are thus subject to the good management of this resource which recharges as soon as the character approaches a source of light or any being suffused with light. Some levels, like the old forest, are plunged into shadows and therefore force the player to plan their movements as best as possible to reach more hidden areas.
And this is where Sky: Children of the Light surprises the most, in this ability to show itself much deeper than it seems at first glance. Because if it is possible to end the adventure without worrying too much about its perks in just over four hours, such an approach will deprive you of the most interesting element of the title: the exploration and the discovery of secrets. Lighting fires, finding stars, ringing bells, these multiple interactions dotted around the worlds give the player increased possibilities for movement and interactions with his peers. Not everything is offered from the first steps in an environment, some elements are carefully hidden, others require more advanced platforming sequences and some require the cooperation of two players to unravel their mysteries. Don’t expect high-end puzzles though, most simply require flipping on switches or collecting a certain number of spirits in the levels.. However, the result is a pleasant feeling of progress, never forced or artificially constrained by restrictive mechanics specific to many free-to-play mobile experiences.
A true free-to-play game?
And yes, Sky: Children of the Light remains a game to download for free on iOS. We could then fear a progression model limited by various paywalls. And yet, we went through the entire title without feeling for a moment the need to heat up the credit card in order to accelerate our progress. The game contains microtransactions in the form of candle purchases and other adventure passes that unlock exclusive rewards. These currencies are, for the most part, identical to those that the player collects during the game. They are used to personalize various aspects of his appearance such as his cape, his hairstyle, his face or even obtain new emotes. The cashshop is therefore not intrusive and does not favor buyers in any way over free-to-play players..
Beautiful, free and generous
After each end of level or disconnection, the player returns to a kind of central HUB endowed with several places of social interactions and direct portals to the worlds he has already visited. If everything is designed for total ease of use, the title sometimes experiences the limits of its mobile support. The graphics benefit from an admirable rendering for the support: colorful, illuminated and animated with great care, it is a true spiritual successor of Journey which offers itself to our eyes with these same sequences of sumptuous slides in full grandiose settings. of poetry with the allure of tableaux vivants. The title will have no trouble showing credibility when it is released on consoles and PC (as announced this week by the studio), a medium where it should suffer less from the few framerate drops encountered on our 2018 iPad.
The other pitfall of its mobile support concerns its controls, which are certainly simple and intuitive, but poorly suited to movement sequences where a minimum of precision is required.. If we would have appreciated support for the controllers in order to make the most of the experience, the “casual” challenge offered by the adventure does not suffer unduly from this lack of maneuverability. A word finally on the soundtrack of the game composed by Vincent Diamante, an artist already at work on Flower, who treats us with captivating symphonies, always adapted to the magic of the moment.
- Splendid environments to visit
- A charm at all times
- Interactions between players, at the heart of the experience
- A real sense of progression
- Soundtrack that perfectly completes the picture
- Non-intrusive and completely optional microtransactions
- Being able to enjoy the adventure on the big screen
- Basic puzzles
- Not always very fluid, regardless of the graphics mode
Just as recommendable as on mobile, the Switch version of Sky: Children of the Light gains in magic once the console is placed in the dock. You can enjoy the excellent art direction on the big screen and enjoy the joystick controls. The expanses of clouds as far as the eye can see impress and make you want to get lost. This free-to-play has not lost its luster and deserves your full attention, especially if, like us, you loved Journey.
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Through Aubin_Gregoire, Journalist jeuxvideo.com