January 14th, 2012 | By Peter Thomsen
Star Sky from swedish developer Mårten Jonsson is a strange beast indeed. It isn’t a game as such; there are vitually no challenges so it is more of an “experience”. It stands out amid the crowd of titles available on the AppStore – and for that alone Skar Sky should be praised. It is immensely refreshing to see this sort of experimentation, and in some ways it embodies all that is good about indie games.
You can really feel that Mårten Jonsson poured a lot of himself in to this title. It’s unique and distinct.
Unfortunately it also embodies a lot of the worst that indie games has to offer. I find myself torn between, on the hand, liking the experimental and medidative aspect of Star Sky – and, on the other hand, struggling to get to grips with the controls and various technical difficulties (I have been assured by the developer that the specific difficulties I encountered have been adressed in a new build).
Without going into the finer details of what Star Sky is about – you play a man, who walks through a landscape. At certain points you can interact with object by stopping and waiting. That is the long and short of it. Like other slightly pretentious titles, it is the journey that becomes the core of the game. Consequently I would rather not spoil it for any potential players, otherwise the purpose of playing the game is kind of moot.
Star Sky is a poem. It’s a metaphor for the life of a man. The journey of life with it’s ups and downs. That does not necessarily guarantee that it is a good metaphor. I found the journey metaphorically challenged – the individual pieces of interaction and choice were, in my humble opinion, not worth the effort of finding them.
This reminds of two games I played way back in the day, on a Commodore 64; namely Alter Ego and Little Computer People. Both were experiments into how to create new experiences with a personal computer, and both were better than Star Sky. Hell, I still whip out an emulator every now and then to play some Little Computer People and that game is from 1985!
My point is that Star Sky is a noble effort, and if you’re interested in trying something really different, that isn’t quite a “game” – then by all means give it a go.
Personally, I wanted and expected more. I was ready for real art. Like I talked about earlier, Star Sky is really the best and worst of indie games in one package. The game feels…lacking. There is clearly potential for something more, but it never really quite makes me want to delve deeper into the game. That is a darn shame for we need more of these games. We need developers to think outside of the box and make their games more personal. Mårten has talent, that is obvious, but more QA on this particular title would have gone a long way to make Star Sky a good poem. The mere fact that Mårten Jonnson made an effort is worth something in my book!