When I was given SkyTime for review, I did my usual prep work for the writeup, scouring websites for background info on the game and the developers. For the first time since I started writing, I could find absolutely nothing about this title outside of it’s Steam page. No trailer, no previews, no reviews, no dev blog or website. A big fat zero on the information front. Strange, I thought to myself. Once I started playing, however, it all became clear.
SkyTime is a short, first person platformer from developer Sometimes You and when I say short, I mean seven-levels-and-the-game-is-over short. You are not going to spend a whole lot of time playing this little runner even if you decide to stick it out until the end. The game casts you in the role of brilliant scientist, Zachary Deevon, who is visiting the alps on holiday with his beloved family. As tends to happen in the realm of gaming, a random tragic event occurs and Zachary’s wife and kiddies are swept away by an avalanche. Rising from the debris, he growls “I’m gonna get you back” and proceeds to steal a time travel device from some evil corporation called Mortech with the intention of zipping back in time and saving his loved ones. Sounds plausible to me!
So, the writing in SkyTime is never going to win any awards but while the premise is simple and a little ridiculous, it adequately sets up the action to follow and gives our protagonist a logical reason to go on his brief rampage. Simple is the order of the day here and gameplay follows suit. You will spend the entirety of your playtime running and jumping through a drab cityscape where one miscalculation will send you plunging fatally into the abyss. Of course, Mortech is a bit cranky about the theft of their prettiest toy, so they have deployed a plethora of turrets which target you endlessly as you traverse the levels; two or three hits from these and you will be back at the beginning of the section for another try.
Turrets become much more plentiful as the game progresses but Zachary is not fighting empty handed. He has his trusty Multi-Tool Wrench which can, as the game states, “alter” the programming of Mortech turrets. In other words, you toss it around and turrets explode when it hits them. Zachary also appears to be descended from Thor because the wrench magically returns to his hand after being thrown, just like Mjolnir. Perhaps he nicked it from an asgardian plumber. He also has a modified version of the time machine he stole that can be used to slow down the action for a short period. While this is a cool mechanic that is well implemented, it is hardly required. Any gamer with basic platforming skills is going to tear through SkyTime within a few hours and there’s very little here to encourage a replay.
It’s fair to say that SkyTime has some issues, both technically and from a gameplay perspective. The visuals are bland and boring. I’m no graphics elitist, but what’s on display here is lackluster and remains basically identical all the way to the end of the “story”. One visual oddity I found particularly annoying was the explosive effect triggered when you destroy a turret. It totally engulfs the screen obscuring anything that may be approaching after; many confounding deaths occurred when I jumped into nothingness because I could not see past the explosion.
For a game based around precise running and jumping, controls felt very floaty and I found myself getting stuck on corners and edges on many occasions. Jumping onto a moving car is made unnecessarily difficult when you slip a few meters as you land, compounded by the speed at which you are required to move in almost all the levels. One section requires you to jump quickly from rooftop to rooftop while attempting to keep up with a fast moving car that is being peppered by turret fire. The drifty controls coupled with constant sticking to edges and corners made this part stupidly hard in all the wrong ways. The inclusion of an option for control via xbox gamepad is a plus but even then, responsiveness needs to be tightened up considerably.
SkyTime has some of the some of the most entertaining voice overs I’ve heard in quite a while. I’m not sure what the devs were aiming for in this regard but the result is hilariously amusing. Effects and music are adequate and show the same level of polish as the rest of proceedings. Come in with low expectations and you will still probably be disappointed.
SkyTime is an unintentionally frustrating platforming jaunt through a bunch of samey environments that will blur together after a few plays. Sloppy controls are it’s biggest flaw especially when it relies on precision to progress. You can grab it for less than $1 on Steam which is arguably a testament to it’s level of quality. For me, the dodgy voice acting was worth the price of admission!
Reviewed on PC.