Sky: Children of the Light is an open world social adventure created by thatgamecompany. Previous games produced by thatgamecompany include Journey, Flower and Flow – the former being the winner of the IGN’s Game of the Year in 2012. It is currently available on Playstation, Nintendo switch, iOS and Android; it is free to download on the Nintendo eShop Google Play and the App Store. I played it on the Nintendo Switch.
You travel through 7 realms, helping others to restore the fallen stars – the fallen spirits of your ancestors. You have to collaborate with others to progress and solve problems.
Sky encourages bringing out the best and brightest parts of humanity and we do that through encouraging authentic and genuine relationships, safe community and positive behaviours. – Eileen Hollinger, Executive producer, thatgamecompany
The game is calm and very pretty. I felt it was a little slow compared to other games but upon reflection felt that it was purpose built to be as such. The slower pace of the game gave my nervous system more of a chance to relax while also being able to be immersed in the game. I tend to find that the more immersive games tend to have a sense of urgency or danger which can be a little stressful when trying to use gaming as a way to relax. Once I had settled in to playing Sky I found it to be a peaceful and very sweet game
Each realm is designed to bring out different emotional experiences and a key element of the game is that you have light within you which you use to bring light to the darkness. I interpreted this as a nod to the innate value of each person and our capacity for good in any situation. The game is an attempt to foster compassion, community and curiosity which I believe it does fairly well.
You can make friends with other players and develop your communication to eventually be able to chat. The initial stages of unspoken communication are actions such as high fives and hugs. To progress to new ways of communicating, you offer a candle which must be accepted by the other player. I thought this was a really lovely idea as it requires consent to progress relationships and communicate. Being near other players also allows you to recharge your flying capability and you can even hold hands to fly around together. This encourages positive interaction with others and motivates community building within the game. It is possible to complete the game on your own but there are secret areas and hidden doors that are accessible only when at least 2 players work together. It does also make the game a lot easier if you are exploring with another player as you can share your light and show each other the way. There is a mutual aid aspect to the game with non-selfish interactions that enable everyone to succeed. A lack of competition for resources or achievements also contributes to this – you don’t lose anything by helping someone else, you both gain from it.
The ability to communicate without talking is also an accessible experience and means that it is an adventure game for anyone. It also allows communication with others globally and removes the possibility of any language barriers or misunderstandings that could cause any stress and anxiety. The promotion of self expression and showing of emotions felt like a very positive aspect of the game. I imagine that for those that are less comfortable with expressing emotion, this is a good way to practise and consider methods of expression other than verbal, without the pressures of the real world.
The characters and spirits in Sky are deliberately designed to let players express their gender in whatever manner they choose. The creators of Sky believe in the power of player choice and self-expression, and encourage you to discover what that means for your in-game character. This concept added to the welcoming, inclusive nature of Sky as there is free expression of self and no judgement.
How Sky made me feel
The softness and calmness of the game were comforting. I appreciated the lack of urgency to do anything. There were clear goals to achieve but no time frame or order that they had to be done in. You could set out to achieve specific goals or simply wander around and explore the different realms. It is an atmospheric game that takes you on a journey of discovery and friendship while helping others and benefitting the world around you.The lack of defined path means that the realms are open for you to explore without any effect on the final outcome of the game. You are encouraged to make your own way and choose where to go next; this sense of freedom adds to the peaceful nature of Sky. There are not many restrictions and it is a free flowing intuitive exploration game. Unfortunately, this can make it a little unclear on where to go sometimes so if your aim is to progress as quickly as possible it makes it difficult. I especially found this challenging as I have a distinct lack of sense of direction so was unsure where I had just been or if I was even still going in the direction I was trying to. This led to some repetitive aspects of the game since I went back on myself several times whilst attempting to figure out what was going on!
Graphics and audio
The soundtrack was lovely and matched well to the mood of the different realms and actions. There is no narration or much other sound so the music was pretty much the only audio throughout the game so was important in the immersion of the game as well as being emotional and moving. Music is also a form of communication within the game – you can sing to call friends and even make music with instruments that can be collected during gameplay.
You can tell that a lot of thought and effort has gone into making this game play similarly to other games while still being unique and interesting to play. The colours are soft and delicate which makes for a beautiful game. The way the light interacts with the rest of the world is also very pretty and each lost spirit you help brightens the world a little bit.
Sky: Children of the Light is not necessarily a game that you would consistently spend hours and hours playing. I feel that this would get rather boring, quite quickly. Instead, it is a chilled out game that is lovely to pick up for half an hour or so here and there to relax. It appears to be designed to enjoy slowly so trying to progress and work through quickly is counterproductive and negates the slow, peaceful quality of the game.
Sky:Children of the Light is a beautiful, soothing game with a stunning soundtrack. It encourages positive relationships and illustrates the inherent value of each individual. It is great for relaxing but not great to play for extended periods of time if you need something more fast-paced.