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Sky: Children of Light – a memorable, beautiful Journey

Developer: Thatgamecompany
Price: Free
Size: 196 MB
Version: 0.5.6
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Sky: Children of Light

Sky: Children of Light has been on an appropriately trying journey, from iPhone X-era showcase to eventual full release some two years later.

We say appropriate because this is a game from the talented developer of Journey, a console game that had many people ooh-ing and ahh-ing over its pronounced artistic sensibility some years back. But also appropriate because Sky: Children of Light is all about an epic journey of discovery and self-improvement.

Lighting candles is the key to upgrades

It’s not a journey you’ll take alone, either. The most interesting thing about this lavish third-person adventure is that while you’re embarking on your heroic quest, a dozen or so other players are experiencing the same moment with you. You can see their little ghost-like figures running around each hub of an environment.

Approach them and you can tap to form ad-hoc raid parties, or communicate with your fellow questers through a series of gestures and mimes. Sit on a bench, and you can even exchange text chats.

Teaming up with strangers is easy-peasy

Perhaps ‘raid party’ is the wrong term to use here. For while Sky vaguely resembles an MMORPG (like World of Warcraft), there’s none of the same grindy combat. You’ll team up with randoms to solve simple switch-flicking (or rather candle lighting) puzzles, or because a certain piece of level furniture requires multiple players to budge. But there’s no ‘action’ as such.

There is plenty of drama, however. This is one of the most beautiful fantasy environments in mobile gaming, and Thatgamecompany knows exactly which forced camera angle and which orchestral swell will accentuate the game’s sweeping vistas.

The sensation of flying is one of Sky’s specialties

Sky’s largely wordless story (barring some occasionally jarring help text) hints at arcane rituals that you’re somehow a central part of, but will never entirely understand. Basically, this is a game that trades in wonder.

It’s a shame that Sky: Children of Light controls so poorly, then. The virtual control stick that steers you over the game’s hilly terrain – and through the sky during its many breathless flight sequences – seems to have a mind of its own, as does a heavy-handed semi-auto camera.

Rain will erode your flight meter

Such structural flaws would wreck a lesser game. But in Sky: Children of Light, where there’s no other source of friction or any real fail state to speak of, the issues are far from game-breakers. Rather, they’re just two more trials that you and your fellow travelers need to overcome. And the journey really is the thing in Sky: Children of Light, bumps and all.