07th Jul2021

Digital Shorts: ‘Forward to the Sky’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Forward to the Sky, an anime-inspired puzzler-come-hack-slash game out now on the Nintendo eShop.

I’m not going to lie, I was drawn to Forward to the Sky mainly on the anime-inspired art style and the purported hack/slash game play that lay within the game. Through in some puzzling – moving blocks, hitting switches, etc. and that sounds like something right up my street. To be honest I was expecting something similar to the Fate/Extella games with added puzzles. Yes, Forward to the Sky may be similarly priced to those “AAA” games on the eShop but unfortunately that’s not what you get from this game…

A port of an old PC game Forward to the Sky feels very much like a product of another time – the level design here is sparse, as if the game was made to run on more basic systems, in fact it feels like a 3D level design from the PS2 era, with more modern character designs on top. With a bit of old-school “fogging” and slightly blockier graphics this wouldn’t look out of place on the N64 or PSX. Which also means you get a number of screen-breaking graphics, with level elements literally tearing up in front of you… which would be more forgiveable if Forward to the Sky was pushing the limits of the Switch but it’s not.

The official description goes like this:

To defeat the legendary witch and become a hero, the princess must ride a hot air balloon into the sky tower. The tower’s lore states that collecting the crystals will uncover the tower’s history and reveal the witch’s lair. The princess, a tomboy despised as a nuisance, fights through the tower and the monsters that fill it with her huge sword to get back at those around her.

Which basically means you have to make your way up the tower, which consists of six levels, collecting crystals which reveal more about the story and your quest – which is all about getting to the unseen, but heard from, witch… Well I say heard from but Forward to the Sky features more text than should be necessary in such a lightweight game and text that, unfortunately, suffers from poor translation and broken English, taking you out of the game somewhat.

That would, honestly, be all well and good if there puzzles offered some satisfaction, or the hack/slash element was more frantic; but sadly neither is the case. The only issue I had with the puzzles was the difficulty. Well, I say difficulty but the puzzle parts of the game are difficult in the traditional sense, more that they can be remarkably obtuse – moving blocks over and over till you manage to catch a glimpse of a platform moving… with the camera position PERFECTLY to actually see it happen! Ultimately Forward to the Sky is more frustrating than puzzling.

A full price for a less-than-full video gaming experience, it’s hard to recommend anyone pay £40 for a game this… unfinished. It’s been 6 years since Forward to the Sky debuted on Steam and games have moved since then, even indie games. Only this game hasn’t, it feels very much like a blast from the past; and as such should be much more of a budget title. If you really want to play Forward to the Sky I’d suggest waiting until its HEAVILY discounted.

Forward to the Sky is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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