There's something so elegant about the rough clinking of NightSky's marble, backed by the sound of a wind chime rustling in the gentle breeze, that it's easy to forget how hardcore this puzzler actually is at times.
How Knytt Underground developer Nicklas Nygren manages to balance such a relaxing setting with gameplay that will make your blood boil is quite magnificent, and when I wasn't cursing the game I was revelling in its beauty.
There's not really that much to NightSky, and yet it captivates and compels you onwards, albeit with clenched fists.
The sky's the limit
The world of NightSky is split into around a dozen worlds, each of which is split in turn into sections, three at a time.
Across each of these levels, you're given a marble that has special powers, such as changing gravity, boosting at super speeds, and becoming very heavy. You only ever have two powers at a time, and this depends on which set of levels you're currently tackling.
The ball itself handles as you'd expect, with physics that exhibit glorious precision.
Roll across some scattered blocks and they'll react to the spin of your marble by flying all over the place. Spin up and touch the ceiling and the ball will react in a way that authentically follows from its spin, its momentum, and the direction you're holding.
Thanks to these perfect ball physics, some well-structured puzzles, and the special powers the game affords you there's rarely a dull moment in NightSky.Marble run
And what about that gorgeous atmosphere? NightSky doesn't just pack some of the most wonderful 2D visuals that the Nintendo 3DS has seen, but a soundtrack that complements it to a tee.
NightSky becomes rather difficult later into the game, especially if you're playing on Alternative mode, which adds extra challenges to the normal world.
Fortunately, playing this extra-tricky mode isn't necessary, and so the difficulty levels needn't get too stroppy for those players who can't (or don't want to) handle them.
But the way in which the game is laid out eventually makes it feel rather repetitive. As you play, levels roll into each other, one after the other after the other, and it all begins to look and feel the same, putting a bit of a downer on what was delightful up to a point.
Even so, NightSky never fails to draw you in. If out-of-body experiences were possible on a games console, this would probably be one of them.
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