£2.49. Less than the cost of a large pumpkin spiced latte. That’s the price of admission to ‘SkyTime’, a game developed by 6 individuals and published by Sometimes You, that’s recently made the jump from PC to PS4 & Switch. Even at the relatively negligible cost though, I still feel like I’ve been short changed by this first person platformer that shows a blatant lack of basic game design knowledge and is so poorly put together that you’d have to pay me to play it again.
SkyTime has a ‘plot’ but it’s hardly worth mentioning because it’s very obviously an afterthought and has nothing to do with the rest of the game. I do mention it, however, because it is introduced in a 30 second cut-scene that is nothing more than a few static images that look as though they were put together using Clipart and features the worst voice acting I’ve ever encountered that’s entirely emotionless and sounds as if it was recorded on a Nokia 3310. This ‘cut-scene’ (and I use that term liberally) explains that you’re a scientist whose family was killed in an avalanche and you’re attempting to bring them back using a time machine. To complete the machine, you’ve stolen a reactor core from an evil military company who are now attempting to kill you.
Only, they’re not. This is the only time the reactor, the evil military company and even your family are mentioned in the game. The actual game is something else entirely.
SkyTime is a first person platformer that’s attempting to mix SUPERHOT and ClusterTruck into one game and fails dramatically. The goal of each of the 9 levels in the game is to reach the glowing green zone somewhere in the level filled with copy-pasted buildings (of which there are only a hand full of variations), flying vehicles (of which there is 2 variations but often come in a few different colours) and turrets which look like Christmas chocolate tins that track and shoot at you if you get too close. The finishing zone is almost always in some awkward and impossible place to reach so “the scientist” is equipped with 2 items to help her reach it – a magic wrench and a stop watch that slows down time.
The wrench itself is the best aspect of SkyTime. With a tap of R1 or R2, it’s thrown in the direction of the cross-hairs on screen. The magic aspect? Well, when you press R1/2 again, the wrench reappears in your hand again, ready to be thrown. The turrets in the game, the only other sign of life throughout the entirety of SkyTime, take a single whack from the wrench to explode so you can boomerang the wrench around and take them out easily.
The stop watch that slows down time? Well, that’s an odd one. With a tap of L1, “the scientist” taps the stopper and time is slowed down for a few seconds with a blue bar around the clock decreasing to show how long you’ve got in slow-mo. Everything slows down – turrets, flying cars, the wrench, your own movement, even the horrid music – but most bizarrely, so does the effect of gravity. During the usual game play, you’ll be leaping around with a lunar-like pull on you downwards, performing super-human leaps but still arching downward, but jump and hit the stop watch and instead of falling in slow motion, you instead move forward without a downward trajectory. This means you can leap over massive gaps while in slow motion, for some unexplained reason.
Irritatingly, SkyTime doesn’t explain this gravity altering effect at any point during its 2 hour duration, even during the level labelled as a tutorial (which is little more than a level with signposts alongside it that say things like ‘Press X to jump’) and what’s more, it uses this ability to forget gravity during slow-mo as its main mechanic. I managed to complete the first 2 levels without using this ability but the third level, called “Going Up?”, immediately requires an intimate understanding of this core mechanic that it has failed to explain in the slightest. It’s only through repeated failure did I eventually stumble across it.
That’s a common theme throughout SkyTime. It reeks of a game made by developers who were deeply ingrained in it, that understood the ideas to the core, but failed to realise that the player would not have that level of knowledge and failed to deliver any of it too them. The level design, which varies from mediocre to hellishly bad, often lacks any signposting (and on occasion goes completely the opposite way by shoving 5 signs in your face for a very obvious progression path forward) which is compounded by the fact that the environment itself is made up of the same buildings/vehicles repeated over and over. I lost count of the number of times I jumped to a building then had no idea where to go next or even if I’d already gone the wrong way already. This isn’t made any easier by the fact that many of the buildings looked clipped together and rough, regardless of whether they’re actual platforms you’re supposed to be on or inadvertent red herrings. Then there’s flying vehicles that just fly through buildings like they weren’t even there. To put it bluntly, SkyTime is an incredibly poorly designed game with virtually no redeeming features.
SkyTime is also shameless in its attempted imitations of SUPERHOT. Each level begins with some large lettering flashing at you that presents a message but unlike the game it’s trying to emulate, there’s no charm or menace here. Often it’s because they’re at odds with the serious storyline that is forced down your throat at the start of the game and at other times, it’s because they’re just not clever quotes. The similar mechanics and visual comparators aren’t fooling anyone though.
On the Steam store front, SkyTime comes with the quote “SkyTime was publicly chosen to be the number 1 game and has found love from all the people that have played it.”. This reviewer, however, didn’t love it. I have exactly the opposite feelings about it, in fact. A plot that’s neither relevant or cohesive. Level design that can barely be called such. A core mechanic that’s nonsensical and left unexplained. A soundtrack that makes the telephone hold music for HMRC sound like a Christmas #1 hit. Visuals that look like a collection of store bought assets just repeatedly copy and pasted throughout. SkyTime is barely a shade of the games it’s attempting to emulate so save your time & money and avoid SkyTime.
SkyTime is available now on Nintendo Switch, PS4 (reviewed on a base console) and PC.
Developer: Alexey Khazov, Cristian Ionescu, Lars van Dorenvanck, Brandon van Doorn, Joran Vergoessen, Admir Leka
Publisher: Sometimes You
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. Please see our review policy for more information.