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Sky: Children of the Light Review (PC)

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Two characters holding one another (Sky: Children of the Light)

When I first heard that the creators behind Journey were chalking up the outlines for an MMO, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to its concept. It didn’t take much, either, to revisit Journey for the thousandth time; I was always fond of that quirky, voiceless expedition, even when it often failed to lather any context over, well, anything in its casket. But Sky: Children of the Light was something else, and it wasn’t long after brushing up on those final summits of Journey that I decided to focus all of my energy into the ascension of a new apex. Sure enough, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I knew, alright, that if thatgamecompany had something to do with it—no matter what it was—then it would’ve been something worth exploring.

Sky: Children of the Light, for those who’ve yet to enter its whimsical universe and scrub its seven biomes clean of all their puzzles and secrets, is an MMO adventure-puzzler game, and one that invites several players to create everlasting memories over the course of their journeys through an idyllic utopia. Similar to Journey, the game provides a generous selection of environments to sift through, and a hearty amount of platforming segments that, while not overly complicated, provide a good sense of creative storytelling and emotional depth. Again, it’s entirely voiceless—a subtle element that has become one of the defining hallmark themes for its creators—and that’s why it works: it’s without noise, and it doesn’t rely on explosive effects to generate its narrative.

For the record, Sky: Children of the Light isn’t a brand-new game, but rather, the reincarnation of a game that launched back in 2019. Still interested? Then let’s press on.

Sky’s the Limit

Two characters holding one another (Sky: Children of the Light)

Sky: Children of the Light is all about one thing: the restoration of a spiritual domain divided in two. Here, you’ll find a series of spirits—tethered souls who lay dormant on the surface of one of several regions—who have been left to fend for themselves in the wake of an ancient cataclysm. Aside from being their spiritual guardians—a role that involves having to unearth mystical truths and relics—you must also be willing to venture beyond the comfort of your own home and tackle a series of underlying issues, whether they be logical, environmental, or purely cultural. Suffice it to say that, as far as MMO’s travel, there’s a lot to do here, and thrice as much to bear witness to if you’re one for leaving no stone unturned.

Unsurprisingly, Sky: Children of the Light doesn’t opt for the traditional hand-holding approach; on the contrary, it harkens back to its roots as conceived by Journey—a contextless cult classic in which players had only the one job to contemplate: to glide, hop, and soar over numerous obstacles toward a faraway beacon. To cut a long story short, Sky: Children of the Light is a more ambitious version of that, only with a selection of additional features, puzzles, and terrains to sift through. Needless to say that, both Journey and Sky, being the calm and collected exploration-based games that they are, none of these elements are overly complex; if anything, they’re relatively easy to work through, provided that you don’t make a habit out of losing your way or backtracking. And even then, I found that getting lost was half the fun; a wrong turn meant having more to explore.

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

Two Journey-like characters surveying snowy hill (Sky: Children of the Light)

Arguably one of the best things about Journey was its ability to compel you into embarking on an unwritten adventure into the unknown alongside another vessel—a character who, although completely unclear at the time, turns out to be another player from the other side of the world. Thankfully, a lot of this remains in Children of the Light, in the case that, you are working towards a common goal alongside other voiceless husks, and you have all of the same tools at your disposal. It’s that spiritual connection that you share with your peers, weirdly enough, that makes the adventure all the more enjoyable; you don’t know who they are, or even how they stumbled across your path — but that’s all part of the journey, and the lack of dialogue just makes it all the more intriguing.

Don’t get me wrong, there are moments that allow you to reach out to others, if not vocally, then physically, be it for a collaborative effort, or for the sake of patting someone on the back for overcoming some simple form of personal milestone. And honestly, that’s where I found myself the most: in the arms of various strangers—bound for some sort of pilgrimage across vast swaths of land that, to my knowledge, idled in possession of some kind of secret that I could only unlock through the power of copious amounts of team-building exercises. That wasn’t always the case, for sure, but I was always keen to partner up with another mute to help make headway on the objectives, regardless of their complexity or composition.

A Marvel to Behold

Group of characters gathering around campsite (Sky: Children of the Light)

Speaking of vast swaths of land, Children of the Light comes lumbered with seven distinct variations of terrain, including floaty islands built on interweaving clouds, pungent rainforests of bark and grass, and mysterious deserts of gold and white, all of which feature a plethora of puzzles to tackle, and hidden doors to unlock. Again, you don’t need a friend to overcome a great deal of these challenges, though I did find that an extra pair of hands to aid my efforts were worth having around, if only to grant me exclusive access to some of the more elusive passageways and corridors.

Thankfully, a lot of the gameplay doesn’t require too much effort, either; it’s merely the case of gliding across some type of terrain, or holding out a candle to activate a door or hidden switch. The only downside to all of this, of course, is that there aren’t any markers to work towards, but rather, an open landscape that simply gives you the tools to make your own adventures. And that’s fine, truly, because at no point did I ever feel as if I wanted to reach the summit; I was enjoying the journey — even at the expense of another stranger’s curiosity. If it meant having to hold hands with another player just so they could embark on their own voyage, I was more than happy to oblige and tag along for the ride.

The fact that Children of the Light also boasts a breathtaking art style and musical score is all the more reason to love it, honestly. Again, it’s hard to paint it as anything more than a Journey 2.0, but given how universally celebrated that was, I was more than happy to experience an emulation, if only to rekindle a few core memories.

Verdict

Character snowboarding down a summit (Sky: Children of the Light)

It comes as no major surprise that thatgamecompany was able to rustle up yet another award-winning product, what with this team, in particular, being masters in their chosen craft. In spite of it being a beefier version of Journey—a statement that I’m sure countless others will agree with—Sky: Children of the Light does manage to finesse the formula and double up on several of its core functions, effectively making it a standalone force to be reckoned with. Point is, the folks over there clearly know what they’re doing, and I’m not about to throw stones at what appears to be an impenetrable fortress.

If it’s a clean and charismatic art style that you’re on the market for, then honestly, you needn’t carve any deeper than the quint and effortlessly picturesque borders of Sky: Children of the Light. Or better yet, if you’re looking to sink your talons into the beating heart of a collaborative project that’s both engaging and wholesome, then again, you might as well consider upping sticks and planting roots somewhere within a quarter mile of thatgamecompany’s award-winning MMO. But, eh, don’t go expecting to draw blood from any form of combat-stricken vessel; it isn’t that type of voyage — and boy, I am so glad about that.

It’s a no-brainer, really, and so, I’m more than willing to give Sky: Children of the Light full marks. Even for a solo adventurer, there’s a tremendous amount to love here, and even more to marvel over if you’re willing to get lost for several hours in the arms of a few strangers. Is it Journey 2.0? Yes. But, when all’s said and done, that shouldn’t stop you from getting your hands on it.

Sky: Children of the Light Review (PC)

Yet Another Staple

thatgamecompany has once again showcased its ability to conceive meaningful and lasting experiences with yet another staple in the world of gaming. It’s a fascinating MMO, clear as day, and a testament to the creative power that orbits the minds of its creators.

Jord is acting Team Leader at gaming.net. If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.