Sky: Children of the Light is an open world online adventure developed by thatgamecompany. To those who hold Journey close to their hearts, this title will glisten with familiarity. Although it isn’t necessarily a sequel to Journey, the influences shine throughout. Creating a wonderful sociable world for players to assist one another, become friends and complete missions whilst holding hands, it’s a wholesome experience for anyone who picks it up. Originally released on iOS and Android, Sky: Children of the Night landed on Nintendo Switch in June 2021.
So let’s soar together and explore what this world has to offer.
Story – It’s Time to Soar
You awaken in a desolate kingdom, tasked with nothing but to spread hope to those who need it most. It remains unclear how you came to fruition, but you have one goal and are set to achieve it. The world around you has been consumed by melancholy, but you are there to provide the light at the end of the tunnel. You are granted the power to travel across seven dreamlike realms, where a spectrum of challenges are presented before you. As you progress and restore hope in somewhere filled with despair, your powers become stronger. But you are not alone.
Sky: Children of the Light is a wonderful, sociable experience from players all across the globe. Opposed to being in a voice chat with fellow players, there are ways to communicate without having to really speak. With a game like this, you don’t want to have the stress of discussion over call. With its limited yet effective communication features, you can immerse yourself in the game with your fellow players. I for one really enjoyed this, since there isn’t any pressure to really speak. You can sing a song to alert other characters of hidden treasures.
Or if you are feeling particularly sociable you can sit on a bench around a campfire and have a chat until the light of your candle goes out. Sky is a pressure free multiplayer, which is a breath of fresh air when other games feel so socially exhausting.
However, rather than facing the perils of hopeful restoration as a singular person, it’s vital you team up with everyone around you to succeed. There are plenty of opportunities to make friendships, and more than enough chances to utilise these for your own gain. But it’s not selfish, you will help a number of people along the way without necessarily realising. A small glint of hope goes a long way here.
Gameplay – A Real High Flyer
As the game is free to play, the expectation of micro-transaction and in-game purchases is almost promised. However, Sky disregards this and allows you to enjoy the game without having to purchase any extras. You can pay for things using the in game currency earned when completing challenges, so if you want to go into this without dropping any money – it’s totally doable. The only reason you’d really need to drop some cash is for personalising your character. To set yourself apart from the crowd your ‘hero’ can change their hair styles, capes and pants. These are all pretty much available to change from the get go, but if cosmetics aren’t for you then you’re free to begin the grind.
Which is where I find Sky lets itself down. Although I loved experiencing this world for the first time, it definitely wasn’t the last. If you wish to unlock all the spirits and essentially complete the game, you are going to have to play each level multiple times. Although it’s fun to fly around you will get bored of exploring the same areas over and over again. It features a lot of repeated content and is truly reflective of the gamer grind. Luckily the worlds are beautiful and with the ability to complete missions with a friend this grind becomes easier.
The social aspect is encouraged by the repetitive nature of each realm since occasionally you will have to rely on one another in order to complete a task. There are skill trees linked to friendship, so the more friends you have the better.
Friendship skill trees aren’t the only one of its kind either. Each spirit has its own skill tree and presents a spectrum of rewards upon completion. Sometimes you’ll receive a cosmetic, or an upgrade to your wings. It’s all worth the effort in the long run but it certainly doesn’t stop the frustration of having to cycle through the same levels repeatedly. It’s a good game to pick up when out and about or if you want an hour of relaxed gaming. But if you’re planning to sit and grind away for hours on end you will begin to fall out of love and Sky will lose it’s charm. It’s not really a game to be enjoyed quickly, and it is definitely something meant to slow down the fast paced nature of everything else in life.
It’s easier to enjoy when you can choose your own path, which Sky definitely gives you the option to do. With it’s open world approach to adventure the world is yours to explore at the push of a button. You can choose what elements to visit first and which spirits to free without feeling like you’ve tampered with the final outcome. Much like Journey, you are encouraged to decide and forge your own adventure. So get up and get out there since there’s a multitude of realms to visit.
Graphics and Audio – The Sounds of Adventure
Much like it’s counterpart, Journey, Sky: Children of the Light is accompanied with an absolutely breathtaking soundtrack. If Hayao Miyazaki and the Breath of the Wild soundtrack were to work together, that’s the closest you’ll get to the soundtrack here. It’s emotionally moving, especially when it’s the only real audio within the game. The characters you interact with aren’t particularly talkative, and none of the ‘cast’ is narrated. The soundtrack pulls everything together. It’s like the icing on top of an already delicious slice of cake.
Music is tense when it needs to be, and it fills you with determination when you begin your exploration. This game is everything you could want and more, and it’s most certainly something I’ve found myself playing in the background whilst trying to relax and wind down.
Another charming piece of audio within Sky: Children of the Light is the short tune you can sing to other players around you. In Journey, this was the only way you could communicate with other players. The longer you hold down A, the more powerful your song will be. In some realms this is an extremely useful tool to remember since sometimes singing is the only way to get through the darkness.
However, once you’ve befriended someone you can sit alongside them on a bench to chat. So rather than relying on a simple song to confer, you can actually speak to the players working alongside you. It’s a small addition, but it’s by far a good one. Being able to speak to other players presents an entire new world of friendship, right when we need it most. It’s much easier to discuss a plan of action rather than just being taken by the hand and dragged in a general direction. You can form little parties too, and it’s easy to communicate using the singing mechanic since it shows whereabouts on the map your companion is. Even when they’re meters above you flying around the clouds.
Sky: Children of the Light most certainly looks the part as well. With an incredibly soft colour palette and quite a few muted tones this game is stunning throughout. The visual effects of this game reflect on your progression towards the end. It’s subtle, but as you pass through levels and restore hope to lost spirits the world around you becomes a little brighter. Before you know it you’re surrounded by blue skies and glittering clouds. The world is a beautiful one, and thatgamecompany really outdid themselves with a free to download game.
Each level and realm and exploration just seems smooth. Alongside the visual aspect of Sky, the gameplay runs smoothly also. But when coming into contact with a hub for online players, frame rate does seem to drastically drop. It’s not for long, and it’s not long enough to tamper with your experience of the game. But it is noticeable. As expected though when hundreds of online players are attempting to access the same area all at once. Aside from this small blip I had no issues with the graphics and just sat back to enjoy the beauty.
Sky: Children of the Light was reviewed on Nintendo Switch.