It’s been a protracted birth for Nicklas Nygren’s silhouetted puzzle-platformer, originally designed for WiiWare before being cancelled and ported to PC. 3DS seems a more fitting home for this unassuming little indie game, which arrives bearing no noticeable marks from its troubled labour. In fact, at times it’s designed with such meticulous precision that it almost feels machine-crafted – and therein lies its biggest problem.
You face several obstacle courses, each three screens wide, through which you roll a ball. You control the sphere’s rotation, not direction, of travel, which initially seems counterintuitive but works better at conveying the importance of momentum. You’ll send it arcing around curved surfaces before stopping it on a dime, then building up speed to accelerate up a ramp and over a large gap.
Physics are consistent, and difficulty spikes are always conquered more swiftly than you’d think from first glance. Fresh elements are introduced at a sensible pace, even if its occasional restrictions seem slightly arbitrary: at times you lose the ability to shift gravity, or make the ball stick to moving platforms. Sometimes you’ll cede direct control of this enigmatic orb entirely, instead pinballing it around stages with a pair of oversized flippers.
It’s accomplished and inventive, but there’s not enough to quicken the pulse, and you feel relief, rather than satisfaction, when the trickier challenges are conquered. The constant metallic clanks are the sound of a game whose nuts and bolts are fully functional, but this tin man of a game is missing its heart.
NightSky is available for download on 3DS eShop for £8.99 / €9.99 / $9.99.