Take on the role of a princess in a cheery land where darkness is mostly far away. Struggling to prove herself, she takes off to the fabled Skytower to defeat the evil Witch. Travel through the Skytower, full of beautiful scenery and mysteries to be unraveled if you are willing to search.
With the rise of indie games in the last few years, platformers have made a comeback as a popular choice for Indie Devs. A mixture of nostalgia, ease of coding, and a lot of different things to do with it make it a genre that fits right in that niche. The nostalgia isn't restricted to game devs either with some of the games like Shovel Knight becoming big hits with retro graphics and high difficulty.
Forward to the Sky, while an action platformer, is not left with retro style graphics or a high barrier of difficulty. While many Platformers have been using old style graphics, Forward to the Sky uses an anime inspired art style and some very talented artists to create some excellent looking areas. The focus on less levels allows them to keep a theme and style in each one, but also retain an overall consistency that flows together very well.
The music deserves some call outs too – I am not an audiophile myself, and a lot of time music for me tends to simply fade into the background, but Forward to the Sky’s soundtrack stood out with its nice soothing melodies that are so different than the tunes we often hear in games. It’s all high quality pieces I found, though if you prefer more blood pumping, energetic tunes, you may find this soundtrack to be lacking a bit.
Beautiful graphics aren’t enough to make a game though, and as a platformer, Forward to the Sky needed good game design to stand out in a bloated market. One of the biggest things is that unlike many platformers, Forward to the Sky is not aimed at being difficult – instead there’s more focus on exploration, some puzzles and relatively simple action.
This is a nice change of pace in many ways to other platformers, fitting in with the bright color choices and relaxing music for it. When you fall in Forward to the Sky, you are grabbed by a hot air balloon (presumably even eloping princess’ have at least one person watching!) and put back a bit before you fell. This lets you keep going, though it does mean that for those who want a challenge the lack of penalty may turn you off.
The combat in the game is very simple with it being entirely driven by mouse clicks and a basic timing basis. There are up to 5 attacks via hitting the left mouse button in a row, and up to 3 on the right mouse button that are more charging, reach based. Its very basic and communicated without words in the commands page, as we’re not looking at a game with alternate button combos, direction button does this, or all sorts of special commands.
On the whole this works because of solid, responsive controls, the tone the game sets, and the variety in game play. The game doesn't spawn hundreds of monsters – instead only a handful here and there with a big boss battle in the final level. Each level brings with its own set up of puzzles, allowing them to function differently with space to explore about.
The game’s storytelling methodology is very well done in my opinion. The mysteries slowly unravel what is going on as you explore and how much you see is based on searching about gathering the magic crystals. In fact, it is possible to beat the game without unlocking the whole story as I did at first, though you can go back to the earlier levels and explore through them again to collect more crystals to unlock more of the story. It shows you how much of the story per level you’ve unlocked with a mosaic for the level that fills in the pieces of the story you found and look quite nice.
While the story itself isn’t anything special, nor is the writing this method of presenting it and allowing the player to explore it themselves, but without all of it being forced down is a very nice touch that elevates it above many of its peers in this area.
Overall, I found to Forward to the Sky to deliver on the promise I saw back in my preview of a light, enjoyable platformer. It isn’t going to reinvent the wheel or do anything incredibly unique but it has some good ideas in places like storytelling and is fun to play through. My biggest critiques of the game would be that at points it seems a little too easy and that the game is short at around 3-5 hours to play through.
Forward to the Sky is now on Steam and is available for $7.99 which is a fine price if you want a few hours spent on a fun little platformer.
Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the developer.
A fun, light platformer that won't really challenge you with excellent aesthetics