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 makes 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 great 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 fewer levels allows them to keep a theme and style in each one but also retain an overall consistency that flows together very well.
Forward to the Sky - Sound and Visuals
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 a 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 princesses’ have at least one person watching!) and put back a bit before you fall. 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 is more charging, reach-based. It's very basic and communicated without words on the commands page, as we’re not looking at a game with alternate button combos, direction button,s or all sorts of special commands.
Forward to the Sky - Controls, and Storytelling
On the whole, this works because of solid, responsive controls, the tone of the game sets, and the variety in gameplay. 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 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, 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 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, around 3-5 hours to play through.
TechRaptor reviewed Forward to the Sky on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer. This review was originally published on 01-30-2015. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions and for historical context.