In the new game Sky: Children of the Light ethereal figures prance and soar through gorgeous landscapes and crumbling temples. These characters hold candles and spread light throughout the world. At least, I think that’s what’s going on in ThatGameCompany’s first new game in seven years. It’s abstract.
Out now on iOS and coming eventually to Android, Sky: Children of the Light feels like an extension or offshoot of 2012’s transcendent cooperative adventure game, Journey. The player, a titular child of light, is a caped figure who embarks on an adventure across seven fantasy realms, using light to revive fallen stars and reform constellations. Players interact with the world and their fellow players via a series of simple icons and gestures as they work together to solve the game’s puzzles and uncover its mysteries.
Unlike Journey, which limited play to two players at a time, the world of Sky Children of the Light is filled with silent cloaked individuals hopping and flying about. It’s a social game. Players can make friends, who they can see online and meet up for play sessions. The game preserves some of the magical anonymity of Journey’s anonymous co-op partners by having players assign names to their friends. I named my first two friends Steve and Lara. I have no idea what their real names are. Friends can be added via more traditional methods, but there’s something appealing about having a friend list filled with randoms with made-up names.
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Gameplay is harder to describe, which is completely by design. As they adventure through the game, players encounter spirits that feed their light and lead them to ancient temples and other mysterious locales. Each area holds some sort of puzzle to solve in order to progress the game’s story. It might be as simple as applying candlelight to a door switch, or as complex as trying to maintain your light while exploring a rainy forest, racing from cover to cover.
The goal in each area is to awaken an ancestral spirit, who teaches the player a new gesture before ascending into the sky to form a constellation. Forming new constellations unlocks new lands to explore.
I’m getting the same sort of feeling playing Sky: Children of the Light as I did playing Journey. I am not sure where I am supposed to go nor what my ultimate goal is, but somehow the game is getting me there. The wind blowing in a certain direction, a light gleaming in the distance or another player anonymously going about their business… these are my guides through these light-hungry landscapes.
(Even the microtransaction store menu is pretty)
Sky: Children of the Light is a free-to-start game. Players can spend money to buy candles to unlock new emotes and character customization items, or they can receive them in-game by playing or receiving gifts from friends. I haven’t felt the need to buy such things. I’ve been too busy just playing and having a good time.