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NightSky review for 3DS

Platform: 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nicalis
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

NightSky is a pretty unique puzzle platformer ported over from the PC to the Nintendo 3DS by development house Nicalis, and created by famed indie developer Nicklas Nygren. On the surface the game is simple enough in design, as you guide a single ball-shaped object across 10 different levels, divided up by a series of singular screens spread across those stages. Getting from point A to point B isn’t always simple, as you’ll run into a number of obstacles and scenarios that’ll have you scratching your head a time or two as you try to figure them out.

But NightSky is certainly fair in its puzzle solving, as most solutions are staring you in the face, and just require you getting the physics of the gameplay just right in order to solve. This can lead to some frustration, I ran into a number of puzzles where I certainly knew what to do, but getting my little rotating sphere to do just that was often an exercise in futility. Eventually I’d get it right, but some of the precision required to figure out these solutions can make NightSky a little more frustrating than it needs to be. However, it captures that Super Meat Boy feeling when it comes to re-tries, in that you’re rarely down for the count for more than a second, and able to jump back in until you get it right, making it tough to put down regardless of how frustrated you can get.

One aspect of the physics based gameplay that I didn’t care for was the use of tiny vehicles to fit your sphere into. These segments make heavy use of the idea of rotation, so while in a vehicle the controls are often reversed in order to get the wheels of said vehicle rotating in the appropriate direction, opposite of the ball. But the controls for the vehicles, and the way they react when run over gaps or edges in the environment, will often see you flipping end over end throughout a stage, and constantly needing to adjust your trajectory. These segments were the weakest of NightSky by far, and I could have done without them entirely.

On the visual side, NightSky adopts a style of high contrast similar to titles like Limbo, and it works to great effect here. In conjunction with a great, ambient style soundtrack, NightSky’s temporary bouts of frustrating gameplay are sort of offset by the calming look and sound of the experience. It’s not a visually taxing game on the 3DS, nor is the 3D effect particularly outstanding, but its simplicity opens up your imagination a bit, and creates a very soothing effect on the player. It’s a really nice style that I enjoyed immensely, and find it be one of the bigger selling points of this particular title.

And that’s about all there is to NightSky. The game won’t take an exceptionally long time to beat, and outside of some frustrating gameplay segments, you’ll be able to figure out the majority of the puzzles with little to no help. There is some added value present with secret rooms to explore and discover scattered about the 10 stages, which can take a fair amount of effort to find, so if nothing else that adds a little more time on the play clock. At the moment there’s little on the E-Shop that feels quite like what NightSky has to offer, so I do feel like it’s worth checking out, even if it’s not quite a flawless experience.

Grade: B