Thatgamecompany changed how gamers interact online when they released Journey, and since then, seldom releases have had the emotional wallop of working with others through the joys of co-operation across the globe. Everyone who played Journey has a specific memory, whether it was a point in their life where they remember playing or where they were, how it made them feel or what it meant to them. Sky: Children of Light has been out for a few years now, but it’s finally on the console where Journey found a home.
I mentioned Journey three times in that opening paragraph, so there’s clearly something within the review that’s leading to a hefty comparison between the two games. That’s because there is. A huge one, in fact. What Sky: Children of Light has tried to do is bring that feeling of companionship and platonic intimacy not only into the present, but also to evolve it and make it grow. While it doesn’t share that same powerful connection of meeting others that Journey had, it does manage to reintroduce the warm and comforting glow you feel whenever you meet other players online.
Especially if someone you’ve already met pops up again, or you see the nickname you gave them reappear on screen. For all you know, they could be GretaHater42069 or DrowningInClunge of Reddit, spouting bollocks about how climate change is a lie or some fascist drivel behind the comfort of their keyboard. However, to you, they’re just Chonky or Samuel, a sweet pet name they’ve adopted by the hand of your own imagination. Of course, if they’re playing something as sweet as Sky: Children of Light, they’re probably wonderful, but it does make you wonder.
Regardless, Sky: Children of Light’s focus is on making connections and getting lost in a beautiful world, allowing time to slip by as you explore a world rife with wonder. What’s rather liberating about it is how you’re free to do what you want when you want, without completing fetch quests or getting lost behind stats and upgrades familiar with most MMOs. The controls are relatively simple, where all you tend to do is fly across the different lands. The length of time you can fly for is improved when you rescue a spirit, and you can also make those familiar hoots and toots by pressing Circle; a form of communication that is more effective than it should be.
Whatever you want to say to another player seems to be said perfectly with a boop, whether you just want to say hello or help guide someone to a spirit or secret. You journey through the world lighting candles, leaving notes for others to uncover, and freeing spirits. It is in the latter where you begin to understand the point of Sky, and how the story being told isn’t some grand over-arching narrative, but rather about personal tales of those you meet along the way. On that personal level, your friendships with real players can grow by interacting with them, giving them gifts, or even creating music together.
Sky: Children of Light might not be as ground-breaking as Journey was when it came out, but Thatgamecompany has managed to improve the social aspect it began to build back in 2012 with new and exciting ways to make friends through the medium of video games. It’s a simple game to understand and master, but when so many other online communities are known for being toxic, this one is about as pure as you can get. The ability to unlock new cosmetics with the easily earnable in-game currency and focus on making anyone who plays not feel alone in the world elevates Sky to something everyone should play and experience, if only to feel a genuine sense of happiness for however many hours spent in its beautiful world.
Social elements are wonderful
Simple yet effective controls
Not a lot to do
Gameplay seldom evolves