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Portabliss: NightSky (3DS eShop)


This is Portabliss, a column about downloadable games that can be played on the go.

I can never think, or write, about NightSky without using the word "meditative." So I'm just going with it. NightSky is meditative in the extreme. It throws calm and serene imagery all up in your face. It's not overly easy; rather, the combination of clever level placement, soothing music and subtly beautiful visuals make the whole experience more ... well, meditative.

When the 3DS port was first announced, Nicalis producer Tyrone Rodriguez told us it wouldn't display in 3D. However, the final game does include stereoscopic visuals. "We tried it and it looked better than we thought," Rodriguez explained to Joystiq, simply. "But then we had to ditch the gyro," referring to plans to use tilt controls.

Gallery: NightSky (3DS eShop) | 10 Photos

Portabliss NightSky 3DS eShop

NightSky puts the player in control of ... some kind of ball, I guess. The goal is basically to get from one side of the screen to the other. This requires the use of a variety of powers. In most levels, you can roll the ball directly with the d-pad, speed it up with one button and brake with another. But every few levels, the rules will change. Sometimes you can reverse gravity. Sometimes you can only brake, and have to move the ball precisely through a series of ramps. Occasionally, you'll be trapped in a wheeled vehicle, and you have to roll backwards to make the wheels roll forward.

What really makes this game feel so different and so special, though, is the curve of each three-screen level. A particularly difficult screen will almost always be followed by a screen that you just roll through unimpeded, like a little enforced cooldown period. Sometimes the order is switched up, but there's always one expressly simple screen per level.

The level elements – platforms, your character, etc. – are shown entirely in silhouette against beautiful, colorful skies, accompanied by an atmospheric, slow-paced soundtrack by Chris Schlarb. It all speaks to a sense of restraint. Restraint is a tool rarely employed in games, and it makes all the difference in this one.
NightSky is available on eShop for $9.99. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

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