Published on September 18th, 2014 | by Aliya Tyus-Barnwell1
Deep Under the Sky Review
Created by Colin Northway and RichMakeGames under the Sarah Northway label, Deep Under the Sky is a beautiful indie action game that bends the mind while playing on basic laws of physics. Players control a jellyfish and its offspring on their quest through a psychedelic world. Get ready for a trip, whether you’re on acid or not.
It begins with a clever introduction about Venus and its mysterious glow and takes players to the jellyfish in their natural habitat of delicate scrolling lights set in green foliage. The tutorial is simple, declaring that the game uses only one button, and that is true; it’s in the bottom left of the screen. With a tap, the player shoots out one of its offspring and control switches to the tiny airborne – or swimming – creature. What makes the active puzzles so interesting is that the response of that button changes based on the level, but the first combination is press once to launch, press again to explode. The objective in every level is to maneuver this tiny jellyfish pollen-bomb to pollenate the several coral-like life forms on contact.
As the jellyfish travels deeper into the world, the infinite offspring will develop different skills to cope with the increasing challenges of their environment. The grapple, rolling form and jet ability all become available, and the order in which this happens is all part of the puzzle of getting the little jellyfish from A to B. Combine this with the natural physics of the world, very similar to our own and the result is a clever if familiar puzzle system. These mechanics lend themselves well to the four chapters accessible from the main page, three of which specialize in one type of ability and one of which combines them.
Add to the artfully done puzzle-platformer aspect, the intricate art of the game itself. Giant eyes follow the little jellyfish, and the swirling lights look like something from an underwater fairy land. The game’s visuals are as trippy as its eerie synth-soundtrack.
The only bad thing I can say about Deep Under the Sky’s auditory or visual appeal is that the icon looks like someone forgot to change it from the Adobe Air symbol. This might make me skip over it on my home page every now and then, but is pretty much a non-complaint since it has nothing to do with the game-play whatsoever. The Northways and Rich Edwards have produced something of quality that doesn’t need the crutch of in-app store to add content or make up for a lack of appeal in other areas.
While the gameplay itself is solid, the skin over it is what sets Deep Under the Sky above other games of its ilk. It’s not going to scratch an itch that wouldn’t be reached by a PixelJunk game, for example, but it has its own spin on the genre that makes it a pleasure to play. The physics are neat and reliable, and the trajectory footprint the jellies leave behind as they fall and explode are helpful. With 80 levels that can be accessed immediately, no time limit on the levels themselves and no limit on the number of offspring you can sprout (though, of course, only one at a time), it offers players a ton of freedom and little pressure. For those who seek a challenge the Google leaderboard icon is on the chapter map page.
While the wealth of levels doesn’t translate directly to a wealth of content, it certainly delivers as a puzzle-platformer. There are more than enough challenges to keep players tapping their screens, with hidden secrets and best times for each level. Players who find them all are rewarded with a star marker for the level on their maps. There is also the intriguing “Dark World” set of challenges in the end-game.
The sound and sight of this game do as much if not more for it than the mechanics, and those are pretty darn solid. Super saturated colors and customized sound effects compliment the natural beauty of this puzzler-action game. I recommend Deep Under the Sky to anyone who enjoys platformers, puzzlers, or deliciously trippy eye-candy.[video id = “enmdDQpq5uI ” site = “youtube”][/video]
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Summary: Trippy platform puzzles galore.