Indie developer Nifflas has carved out quite a name for himself in the scene. He is known for his atmospheric games with simple-yet-stylish graphics, and he can proudly boast having feathers in his cap such as Within A Deep Forest and Knytt Stories.
NightSky follows suite by being an “easy to play yet tough to master” physics-based puzzle-platformer. The player takes control of a sphere and has to guide it to the exit in a number of increasingly strange, silhouetted, dream-like worlds. Mastery of the game’s controls and physics is key to success; spinning the sphere just right, accelerating it up slopes and surmounting obstacles all take some getting used to.
To add a bit of variety into the mix, the sphere is imbued with powers that come and go with no warning or logical consistency. Abilities such as acceleration, braking and reversing gravity are present, but only one or two of these skills are available in any given level – if they’re enabled at all. Indeed, some levels remove the player’s direct control over the sphere entirely, forcing them to move it through clever use of inertia.
Additional challenge can be found when the sphere is placed inside of a vehicle. Moving a car-like construct without toppling it over or flying within a gyrocopter-like device can test the endurance of the player, particularly when the controls become inverted. Sometimes the background is dynamic, featuring rotating platforms and moving propeller blades which can knock the sphere out of your control and into potential danger. Despite all these things, the game is never really frustrating; there is no lives system and the player may continue indefinitely. Having to restart a section all the way from the beginning may annoy some people, though.
If you’re familiar with Nifflas’ other games, you know what to expect in terms of aesthetics. NightSky‘s graphics are simple and effective and invoke a serene, peaceful mood. One minor complaint is that occasionally it’s difficult to tell if an object is an obstacle or merely part of the background.
Adding to the theme of serenity and simplicity is a tranquil, ambient soundtrack which is available as a separate download if you find yourself liking it enough to want to stick it on your iPod.
Roll on over yonder to check out the demo and browse Nifflas’ game library. Nab the full game on Steam here. If you’re not a Windows user, sorry; you’re out of luck with this one – unless you were fortunate enough to get it when it was available in the Humble Indie Bundle.