Title: Forward To The Sky
Developer: HorngYeuan Digital
Release Date: February 25, 2021
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Action Platformer
I’m always game when it comes to small teams putting something creative together with whatever budget they have. However, in some cases, I think the price should be considered when it comes to getting these titles to as many players as possible. With the Switch release of Forward To The Sky, we get what I feel is one of the most lackluster gaming experiences that I’ve played in a while. Sadly, at almost the price of a AAA game, I’m thankful that I’m one of the few that had to endure it.
Forward To The Sky doesn’t waste any time. The introduction to the story is actually the introduction to gameplay, with text on the screen and no real flair. After these screens of text, you’re on a hot air balloon to the first stage. There are 8 levels that each feature different platforming challenges. Sadly, as a platformer, the game fails due to the floaty controls and haphazard jumping mechanics. After a while, you learn how to fight against the controls, but more often than not, the game will throw something else at you for you to compensate for.
Instead of playing out before and after the stages, the story happens during gameplay. We get to hear the protagonist princess threaten a witch who resides at the top of the tower. However, it’s discovered that there’s more to this witch than what the princess has been led to believe. Their dialogue has English audio in this version, which helps the flow of the interactions, but sometimes the characters sound like they are having two different conversations.
Before you know it, the game will be over, and you’ll be left wondering why you just spent $48.99 on such a short experience. The replayability ultimately comes in secrets found within the stages. However, it’s good to note that difficulty is only measured by a timer. The easy mode doesn’t have this time, so if you’re looking for secrets, I’d just go through the game on this mode and then breeze through the puzzles on Normal difficulty in record time.
These secrets lead to crystals that unlock gallery images. These have been updated in this release, but it’s also possible to see the old images as well. This is where you can piece together more of the witch’s story, but it’s going to take a lot of investment to actually care. The secrets aren’t terribly hard to find, but they add a layer of challenge to the stage.
Each stage introduces a new puzzle mechanic, and rarely are they repeated in another stage. Most of the time, you’ll be moving objects or navigate maze-like sections as you make your way back to your hot air balloon. Some stages are concise, where the time is only padded because you keep falling to your death. There are no real consequences here, as you’ll just have to restart from a checkpoint.
Enemies in the game can be taken out by spamming the attack button, which gets old fast. Something to spice up this combat would have been great, like leveling up her skills to add some finishers or anything besides what is offered. The dodge is also such a pain to execute due to a delay in the action.
There are also boss battles, but these are just endurance rounds to land as many hits as possible as the enemy throws some unfair attack patterns your way. The problem is that there’s no rhythm in these battles. One boss expects you to jump over ground pounds, but their placement just causes you to get hit by the follow-up attack.
Graphically, I honestly don’t know. Forward To The Sky pulls off the cute protagonist, semi-detailed level design, and nice illustrations, but it’s all at a very indie level. On Steam, the game can be played for $7.99, which I feel is a reasonable price for the product. However, even with the additional modes and voice-over, the Switch version just doesn’t add up to the inflated price of the Switch version. This only limits the number of people who will experience this game in the end, which is sad because there are some interesting ideas.
Forward To The Sky on Nintendo Switch is not worth the price of admission. It’s almost comically bad and requires a lot more refinement than the Switch release provided. Everything is just dull, from the story to the platforming and combat; I don’t think I was ever really having fun. The moments of challenge in the platforming piqued my competitive nature, but it was only due to the game’s unresponsive controls and unpredictable camera angles.
If you’re trying to play Forward To The Sky, just get the PC version.
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