Castles In The Sky by The Tall Tree Games has made it onto my list of games approved for the wee ones, but it may very well have you playing it too. Lasting 10-15 minutes, this interactive storybook experience might not become the next big hit with a wider audience, but will certainly grab some attention in many households. In three words, Castles in the sky is short, sweet and simple. This storytelling experience will tug at your heartstrings and will, perhaps, leave you a little better off for playing.
Castles in the sky is wholesome, feeling more comfort-food-for-the-soul than game, but still manages to provide more interactivity than merely turning the page. Delivered in a bright 8-bit style, you control a child, jumping increasingly higher, leaving the earth far behind to explore the sky. Jumping upwards, gravitating towards your cursor, you utilise clouds as platforms to jump onto, and hang onto balloons for a boost. Motions are incredibly smooth, I’ve not experienced a single glitch yet. You jump with the left mouse button, and by holding it down you can perform higher jumps. Despite not actually having any worth or meaning in-game, I increasingly found myself attempting to hit all the coloured rings just to hear the pleasing notes they made.
The musical score is beautiful, and really spot on when it comes to being paired with the theme of the game. The background music is soft and gentle punctuated by piano interludes or the tinny resonance of chimes. I find it incredibly fitting for a children’s bedtime story, and like how soothing it is to the ears.
These rings create one of the most satisfying sounds I have heard in a while.
The story is pleasant, and even if you are as deeply cynical as I, you’ll still find some charm to it. Asking all questions we all as children would ask, “Where do balloons go, after you let them go?” and finding an answer for them. The text is never too burdensome, with lines appearing singularly and well stretched out. The backgrounds change according to the advancement you’ve made through the story and at points you see more than just stars or clouds. One of my favourite moments was being joined by a swarm of fireflies that glow and shift around you as you move.
This interactive story may pit a few of you against each other, arguing whether or not it really is a game. For those who feel there is a niche within video games to be used as an artful media, you’ll definitely find the room in your heart for Castles In The Sky. If you’re looking for something that will eat up some hours, this might not be the right choice for you. If, however, you want a game that you can involve your four year old in, then this might revolutionise bedtime stories. Castles In The Sky is certainly appropriate for all ages.
Fireflies are way cuter in 8-bit
If you liked introspective games such as ‘Journey‘ and enjoy a bit of poetry then you’ll be open to Castles In The Sky. If you’re looking for thrills and kills, look elsewhere for your daily dose of blood, you’ll find none here.
Thoughts? Comments? Balloon enthusiast?
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All images courtesy of thetalltreesgames :http://www.thetalltreesgames.co.uk/
Games available on both PC and Mac, it currently prices at $1.50 or £0.93 for us local folk. :