It’s relatively hard to describe what about Skyrift drew my eye enough that I wanted to review it as I would describe myself as one of those people who fully judge a book by its cover and I’m generally a bit of a AAA whore so indie games often don’t catch my eye but I was scrolling through the review messages that developers send us and I came across the message from Torchlight-Games which peaked my interest when they described their game as “a 3D bullet hell game, but instead of shooting, you deflect bullets back at your enemies!” I’m not the most knowledgeable person out there when it comes to games of the past but as far as I’m aware this is a relatively innovative twist on a well-established mechanic.
Skyrift is one of those, easy to learn, hard to master, type of games. You have a total of four controls, the left mouse click deflects projectiles, the E key grabs an incoming projectile and subsequently, the W key launches the held projectile back, finally the shift key will cause you to explode energy around you and deflect projectiles from all directions. Where the skill comes into play here is how you first have to identify which type of projectile you’re defending against, red, green or blue and then you have to face the correct direction and either deflect or hold accordingly. There are three types of projectiles, you have the red projectile which is the most common that can be either deflected or held, there are the energy bombs (Blue) which can only be held and then thrown and finally, there are the green missiles which can only be deflected. Pretty simple right? Well, that’s because it is.
Don’t go into Skyrift expecting a deep experience, it’s very ‘what you see is what you get’. Not necessarily a bad thing in its own right but with how competitive the industry is these days having an interesting idea needs more behind it if you want to push above the other indie titles especially when games like Undertale show the world that you don’t need a million-dollar budget behind you to make something special. I will be keeping an eye on this developer going forward because I will always value something with an idea more than a franchise that goes through the motions year after year and most of the best games come from an idea that has evolved as the game goes further into development. Skyrift has the idea, it just needs to evolve a little more.
The gameplay takes place in the same area in space and all you have to do is defend from waves of ships until you die, it never gets past that. It would be nice if there were some different levels or more variation in the gameplay because like that one Gears of War achievement said ‘variety is the spice of life’ and there is no variety on display here. Some parts do stick the hairs on the back of your neck up a little, most notably when a portal opens up and a giant dreadnaught comes screaming in from beyond the void which is pretty much the game’s way of saying ‘shits about to get real now.’
I would like to talk about the graphics for a moment as I don’t normally put much stock in a game’s visuals as a selling point but I’ve gotta say I’m impressed with how Skyrift looks, it got a slight mix of polygonal shapes with an almost cell-shaded look to it and the skybox, or space box in this case, does look like it goes on into the far reaches of space.
I don’t see Skyrift as a game you’ll be playing for a long time mostly because there’s no depth here, there’s a leaderboard in-game for the truly competitive and the time of writing I’m currently number 1 in hard mode so I challenge anyone reading to beat my score. (I dare you). The leader board will keep the most competitive of players coming back to so they are the best at something which I definitely didn’t do a few sentences ago, for the more casual players however you’ll most likely play this game sparingly in maybe 30 to 40 minute sittings at a time and because it will only ever surprise you once and with the disposable nature of games these days an experience that doesn’t evolve as you play won’t keep you for long.