Game Reviews

Deep Under the Sky

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| Deep Under the Sky
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Deep Under the Sky
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| Deep Under the Sky

If there was life on Venus, what would it look like? Northway Games puts forward a pretty convincing hypothesis in Deep Under the Sky.

A mixture of scorching surface temperature and crushing air pressure might make for a race of floating jellyfish, living their quiet lives in the skies.

Plausible? Don't look at me. But it sure is an unusually pretty thought, and Deep Under the Sky is nothing if not unusual and pretty.

Hey, good looking

Just look at those screenshots. Aren't they lovely? There are plenty of good-looking games out there on the App Store, of course, but few that are as distinctive as they are attractive.

Levels in Deep Under the Sky look like a beautiful coral reef, if such things existed in the deepest darkest corners of the ocean.

Simple barriers have dozens of tiny tendrils across their surface, swaying in the breeze/current, while the game's creatures are made up of of multiple tiny yet incredibly detailed components.

Suffice to say there are the kind of graphics options tucked away in the game's menus that you might not have seen since the last PC game you played - a sure sign of the hardware-stretching demands made by Deep Under the Sky's ravishing graphics engine.

Starfish

Underneath all this astro-aquatic splendour, Deep Under the Sky is a fairly simple physics-based puzzler - albeit a good one.

Your jelly fish-like alien launches little seedlings out at a set angle. You then adjust and prolong those seedlings' paths by tapping and holding the ability button at the appropriate time, aiming for the eggs that are spread throughout each level (as well as the two bonus stars).

These abilities activate in sequence, so you need to think how you might combine each one with the surrounding level furniture in order to get to your goal.

For example, the first few abilities you'll encounter give your seedling a brief rocket burst in a set direction, while later ones turn your seedling into a rolling ball or fire out a grappling hook.

Complications

This combination of abilities, along with that stunning art style, lifts Deep Under the Sky comfortably above the mass of mediocre physics puzzlers that have saturated the App Store.

It's not all plain sailing, though. For all its graphical richness, there's a sense of clunkiness and even amateurishness to Deep Under the Sky's structure and linking components.

Written elements appear to have been rushed, with a number of mis-spellings and grammatical errors, and when you're dumped into the first level you'll experience more than a hint of confusion.

As the levels grow more complex, I also found myself yearning for a map or zoom-out and pan controls. I appreciate the explorative vibe the developer is shooting for, but such appreciation wears thin when it comes to the practical matter of actually trying to complete the levels as efficiently as possible.

But it's hard to stay anything more than mildly peeved at Deep Under the Sky. I mean, just look at it. It's a game that's almost as pleasant to play as it is to look at - and that's saying something.

Deep Under the Sky

A truly beautiful physics puzzler that plays almost as well as it looks
Score