When you start up Sky: Children of the Light, numerous messages shoot across the screen as it loads. Messages informing you of server connections, the reception of in-game currencies, and the like are commonplace for games with an online focus, but theres one short message that feels uniquely descriptive to thatgamecompanys fourth title: "Finding new friends." It's just a simple notification that youre being connected to other players in this intimately connected universe, but its also a strong message of what Sky is really about. Although it mimics many gameplay elements from Journey, its Skys evolution of those ideas that makes it a fascinating multiplayer experiment with deeply meditative qualities.

Playing Sky is incredibly similar to Journey. You control a robed figure, recognizable as a small child, and navigate a series of small environments connected only by the constellations in the stars they share above. Sky keeps things simple by tasking you with navigating its environments and holding down a single button to soar into the air and take flight. Flight is central to Skys otherwise simple mechanics, letting you execute gorgeous maneuvers through the clouds or delicately glide between the remains of mysterious ruins. Expressive yet subtle animations make each movement in the air feel delightful, even though youre doing little more than controlling your direction. Swooping down into the clouds only to tilt upwards at the last minute is rewarded with a cute pirouette, for example, letting the wind engulf your robe and accurately shape it in the wind.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Flight isnt free in Sky. Flying draws light from your robe, which limits how much aerial freedom you have. Light is collected from any light source you come across, and its your job to spread it around in turn. You ferry around light with candles, using them to spread fire to unlit lanterns and shrines. You can also use light to burn away corrupted vegetation or scare dangerous wildlife that will attack you in the dark. Glowing, faceless children are scattered around each new area you explore, bestowing you with wings that help you upgrade the amount of light you can store at a time, in turn letting you fly longer. You can lose wings when youre carrying no light and take damage from enemies or environmental hazards, though you can easily pick them up again. Sky doesn't feel punishing at any point, but it does use these gentle nudges to remind you of how great it feels to have a bounty of flight at your fingertips and what it might feel like to lose it again.

Collecting light is beneficial to getting around, which in turn lets you discover lost spirits that govern the central progression in Sky. Each area has a star constellation that you slowly complete by saving lost spirits and returning them to the skies above. Most of these are simple exploration puzzles. By diligently poking around, you find blue outlines of long-forgotten beings, each creating a breadcrumb trail to follow that tells a short story of the spirit its leading to. These are moments frozen in time, telling vague stories that can come across as anything from humorous to tragic. Its cheerful to see a skit of two clumsy beings attempting to move objects far bigger than them from one room to another, and equally sober to witness another in anguish, mourning a painful loss. Skys story is intentionally vague so that you fill in the blanks, interpreting what purpose light serves in its world and why its sacrifice is meaningful.

Sky is entirely playable alone, and you're not required to find any fixed number of its spirits to finish it. But its also a game with a big emphasis on sharing your experience with strangers. You arent a unique figure in its world, and certainly not the only one carrying light to its eventual end. Instead, your journey is consistently filled with other players, each on their own adventure that you can choose to partake in for just a moment or two. You can contribute in small ways. A passing player might hold out their candle for you to light, letting you replenish their light in turn if you choose to. To befriend another player, you need to share a candle with them, permanently linking you two and adding them to your friends list (which is suitably represented by a growing constellation). You never see these players' names; instead, you name them based on your interactions with them. It feels like meeting someone new for the first time, but not immediately being able to speak to them. You can use taps to let out audio pings that help gather other players around you, but you're also able to take a seat on a bench, wait for another player to sit next to you, and engage in a more direct, text-based conversation if you choose.

The most interesting way to interact with other players is with emotes, which are unlocked with each new spirit that you free. You can use these emotes to express yourself to other players, with anything from a simple wave or a point in a direction to more intimate displays of friendly affection, like hugs. There are also separate emotes and actions you can unlock by increasing your friendship with other players. By rewarding each other with consumable candles, youll unlock unique abilities (which can also only be used between you two) that can change the way you navigate through each area. My personal favorite was the ability to form long chains of players by holding hands, with one player guiding the group to new places while using everyone's collective light to fuel the flight. This also helps new players see areas they might not yet possess the ability to reach, granting Sky a cooperative nature that's remarkably easy to engage with.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8

[contfnewc] [contfnewc]