When Sky: Children of the Light (or simply “Sky” in-game) launched in 2019 on iOS, it received well-deserved critical acclaim. Some were dismayed that the follow-up to the iconic adventure title Journey would be chained to the mobile world, but after casting eyes on the gorgeous visuals, simplistic gameplay, and inspired use of social interaction, there was only one ‘a question forming on the lips of gamers around the world: “Wait… is this a mobile game?” “
Despite this, there was undoubtedly a good chunk of gamers (this writer included) who wanted the game to finally launch on console, if only to have better control of the protagonist without fear of twitching their hands. Well, two years have passed, and Sky is finally available on the Nintendo Switch, retaining everything that made the mobile version so great while adding fully button-mapped controls (and yes, we know mobile devices support controllers… go ahead).
Explaining the plot of Sky seems rather superfluous, given that you can play effectively however you want, but we’re going to give the old college a try: set in a beautiful realm, you’re tasked with locating the spirits in each of the separate elements. of the game. Locations. Finding and interacting with Spirits grants you new items such as hairstyles, cloaks and masks, in exchange for in-game currency. In addition to spirits, you also meet the titular “Children of Light”, who grant you improvements to your flight ability as you progress through the game.
Ultimately, the object of the game is to explore the environment so that you can get items and abilities that allow you to explore. After of the environment. This may seem a bit unnecessary to some, but as with previous titles from thatgamecompany, Sky’s appeal lies in its simplicity; glide through the clouds, slide down an icy slope or just sit around a campfire with other people.
The latter forms a large part of the experience. Social interaction is almost mandatory to get the most out of the game, but the good news is that it is handled in a completely non-intrusive manner, and it integrates cross play with mobile users. You will see other players roaming around as you move through the game, some of whom may be heading to the same destination as you, and others who may go off and do their own thing. Each player can be approached and greeted, and you have the option to befriend the player and give them a nickname of your choice.
We met Bob quite early. Bob was new to the game, given that we had met them in the world of the initial hub, and they were dressed in the default outfit. After a few tweets back and forth, we grabbed each other’s hands and set off out into the world. Now, to be clear, we have no idea where Bob is based, their age, or their real name. Sky wisely neglects to provide this information, focusing instead on player interaction, and only player interaction. We traveled far together, screaming at each other whenever we lost sight of each other and chirping with happiness whenever we found our goal.
It was a great experience to say the least, but of course we had to part ways with Bob in the end. Strangely, we felt a slight pang in our hearts when they left. Sure, we could meet someone else and call him Bob, but it just wasn’t the same; it was not our Bob. Much like Journey before it, the social aspect of Sky is deceptively deep, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you bond with your in-game knowledge.
In addition to the exploration and social aspects of the game, there are plenty of options available to customize your character. These items are available in the hub world, and you can customize everything right down to the instrument your character will wear throughout the game. We went with a cute little guitar, and what’s great is that you can exit the instrument at any time during play, with each button on the Switch controller corresponding to a different musical note. You can create your own songs or play along with a selection of sheet music.
Of course, with such simplistic gameplay and a glaring lack of challenge, you would hope the game would at least be impressive. Well, it’s no exaggeration that this is one of the best games on Switch. The lighting is absolutely wonderful, and combined with subtle yet effective lens flare effects, each of the game’s worlds looks incredibly well done, if not particularly realistic. There is also an option to change the display in the game, so you can either lock the game at 30fps and enjoy a higher resolution, or reduce it for a smoother experience at 60fps. Can we also just reiterate that this game is free. Absurd!
In addition to the Switch launch, there is also an option to download the ‘Starter Pack’. This comes with two new capes, a ship’s flute, a new headdress and 75 candles (the in-game currency); now with the pack at £ 28.99 for the UK market do we think it’s worth it? Well, no, not particularly; the game never requires you to buy extra currency, and you can easily go through the experience without ever having purchased a single extra item, but it’s there if you want a little push to get you started.
The game also acts as a live service, with new seasons being introduced periodically to add new content to players. The upcoming season features the game’s first cross-over event with French children’s character The Little Prince, with an entirely new world to coincide with the collaboration. The only concern we have with the live-service format is whether the simplistic gameplay has the stamina to keep players engaged for weeks, if not months, at a stretch.
We love free stuff, and Sky: Children of the Light is possibly the best experience you can get for free on the Switch yet. The visuals are simply stunning whether you’re playing in handheld mode or on the big screen, and the variety of different worlds in the game provide more than enough incentive to explore. The social aspect is solid and the game’s unique ability to bond with complete strangers is frankly a marvel. The only real downside is that the gameplay is such a simplistic nature, so we’re not sure it will keep players around for long to find out about future updates. If it catches your eye, a magical experience awaits you.