When Ketchapp pulled back the curtain on the first screenshots of its latest mobile title Skyward, the Internet erupted.
Skyward's soft pastel colours and Escher-influenced level design are almost identical to award-winning puzzle title Monument Valley.
That alone would be cause for chatter, but Ketchapp already caught heck last year for 2048, a math puzzle game that's practically a clone of Threes!.
The success of 2048 over Threes! (the former is free, whereas the latter costs £1.49 / $1.99) has since caused savvy game fans to narrow their eyes at Ketchapp, hence the backlash over Skyward.
Here's the thing, though. Despite the graphical similarities, Skyward plays nothing like Monument Valley.
And while Skyward's gameplay doesn't come anywhere close to Monument Valley's brilliance, it's a pretty competent one-touch endless climbing game.
Step by step
Playing Skyward is literally about taking things one step at a time. When you start a session, you see two circles, one of which remains anchored while the other orbits it.
When you tap the screen, the orbiting circle plops down in place, and the previously-stationary circle begins to spin.
By cycling between the stationary and orbiting circles, you can "walk" through the level. Each stage is randomly-generated and filled with holes, movement, and weird 90-degree angles.
You can walk safely up walls, but if you misstep and one circle lands in a pit or goes off a ledge, the game is over.
It doesn't pay to wait too long to make a move, either. The orbiting circle gradually shrinks into a dot, and if it disappears entirely (which takes a few seconds), it counts as a miss.
The goal in Skyward is to rack up as many steps as possible, preferably a number worth bragging about on the game's leaderboards.
High scores also unlock new structures. The more you play and the better you do, the more challenging the game becomes.
Skyward also pulls out a few tricks to make your journey a little more complicated. When certain marked tiles are stepped on, they can have different effects.
They might send your circles orbiting the other way, or they might slow down the their rotation.
Stairway halfway to heaven
Escher-style levels are definitely an interesting thing to base an arcade / twitch game around. Skyward's weird visuals mess with your perspective and make you second-guess each circle's placement.
Given you have a very limited amount of time to make each move, playing mind tricks is a neat way to add a layer of challenge to the experience.
It's still worth wondering if it was absolutely necessary for Ketchapp to ape Monument Valley's colour scheme and font, but the studio garnered the attention it was doubtlessly looking for. Now with all eyes on the app, it's time to ask - should you play Skyward?
Sure. It's a free download (and peppered with frequent and intrusive ads as a result - it so happens full-screen pitches for other games pull you away from Skyward's serene atmosphere quite efficiently), and it has enough cool ideas to keep you playing for a time.
Scoring new pieces and building up levels as you go is a fun mechanic that keeps you hitting the "Retry" button over and over again after you screw up.
All that said, even though Skyward burns hot, it's still built on a single premise. While you're sure to put in a couple of good hours, the ads and general monotony make it so you probably won't want to play long enough to kiss the sky.