‘Really Big Sky’ Review – Really Friggin’ Hard
As a relatively reliable indie studio, Boss Baddie has had some exceptional efforts in the past. Formishire was formidable, while Wake seemed to be an instant favorite. During my time at DIYGamer, it was apparent that a lot of our traffic came in because of a guide or two on Boss Baddie’s games. I’ll admit it’s a strange sort of excitement: not quite similar to how I envision the average gamer thinks about Mojang and their games, but certainly an air of anxiety rears itself as I power the game up and attempt this massive new effort. Really Big Sky is seriously really, really difficult. So, if you’re into that sort of thing, stay tuned. And if you’re not, then you’re like me, meaning you’ll be pleasantly surprised by a game that would otherwise force you to curl up in a fetal position in fear of its demands.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Really Big Sky is difficult – it seriously is! Its core gameplay mechanics place it in the category of a shoot-em-up, and that’s pretty much exactly what this game is. But that being said, it’s a very good shmup. Boss Baddie has packed this bad boy with plenty of play! For one thing, you will have several game modes to choose from — but not initially, of course, as the unlocks in this game are plentiful. I find this a polarizing appeal of the game. On one hand, I love unlocking new modes, achievements, weapons, etc., but on the other, I would have liked to jump into the 4-player co-op without the lengthy effort of unlocking it.
In its defense, Really Big Sky is one of those experiences that keeps you coming back for more and ultimately requires you to come back for more if you want to have a chance at unlocking anything or upgrading your weapons. The game will crush you the first few times, demoralizing and perhaps even demotivating you, but its pretty look and downright mystery of “how-the-hell-do-I-do-this?” will keep you coming back. Fortunately, as you come back, you’ll be able to upgrade your ship and add more power to your arsenal, which has an excellent tendency of snowballing and helping you unlock further game modes and achievements.
Really Big Sky is mostly an arcade shooter, given that its regular “Classic Mode” is a score-based mode. However, its merit lies in the fact that the game randomly generates your environment, enemies/bosses, power-ups, and so forth. This keeps the game fresh, what with the assortment of pretty colors and nebulous clouds combined with the excruciatingly unforgiving gameplay mechanics (e.g. touch ONE thing that you are not meant to touch and you die). After each session, you are able to power up the attributes of your ship — by utilizing however many points you’ve earned based on your score — and save your score, which will likely be amiss in the sea of ridiculously better scores on the leaderboards of the game. Upgrading your stuff definitely helps you play well, and you’ll find that the longer your runs become, the more fun the game.
In truth, I really enjoy the way Boss Baddie handled the pacing because Really Big Sky throws things your way on an almost constant basis. From planet to planet, you are drilling through them and collecting power-ups for your weapons, ship speed, or score multipliers. Inbetween, you duke it out with weak, reasonable, and painfully difficult enemies. The constant barrage of on-screen multiplicity can be tiring for the eyes, but it certainly keeps you engaged. I should also note that Really Big Sky is by no means a perfect game. its tutorial was rather nondescript of what followed and confused me a bit, forcing me to replay it a number of times. Likewise, as noted before, the idea that I have to play a bucketload of times before opening up co-operative mode was a little bothersome. Finally, the leaderboards do take a few seconds to load, but I’m not much of a leaderboard hound since I’m never very high up there anyway.
Aside from a couple of missteps, Boss Baddie has delivered a superb SHMUP package in Really Big Sky. It is unquestionably difficult, but rewarding; it is reminiscent of an acid trip laced with the wartime tales of a sci-fi space pilot; it is really difficult, but damn fun; it is polished and has an excellent soundtrack, and it is sufficiently worthy of a 10-dollar price tag — assuming that you actually like SHMUPs and are ready for the challenge. However, if you’re prone to breaking controllers and slamming your head into the keyboard, maybe it’s a good idea to try the demo and then step away for a bit.
You can find out more information on Really Big Sky over on the official website.
Review summary Pros:
Fast-paced and in your face; ridiculously challenging; packed with plenty of game modes; randomly-generated levels keep things fresh; ethereal and spacey design coupled well with soundtrack.
Must unlock every game mode; load times for leaderboards longer than could be; can get frustrating for non-SHMUP gamers.