Tag Archives: SF Indie Game Jam 2013

Bound from cloud to cloud in Scaling the Sky

scaling the sky game thoughts

Look, I’m just going to start this off by urging you to go play Scaling the Sky for yourself right now: http://www.scaling-the-sky.com.

It won’t take up your entire day–or even your entire morning–and I also feel that it is important to grok the jumping mechanics as they are different enough to separate this from a blatant clone of running and jumping along the cloud platforms in Super Mario Bros 3. Oh, and did I mention this plays in your browser? So no excuses.

If you need more convincing or are curious what words I’ll use to describe this 2D skywards climb, then please, stay. Read a while. Research shows that Scaling the Sky was created by William Felkner, Chelsea Howe, and Michael Molinari during the 48 hour SF Indie Game Jam 2013, and it’s a surreal little experience that surprisingly says something by the end of it, and gameplay basically boils down to jumping from cloud to cloud, jumping out of floating pools, and leaping into rainbow elevators to move on to the next area. That might not seem like a whole lot to go off on, but it is very enjoyable.

You play as a woman stuck on a small, tropical island. Eventually, after discovering there is nowhere else to go, you travel upwards, to the clouds. Naturally, these clouds have buoyancy, which makes jumping on and off of them a bit tricky. When you enter a cloud from below or the side, you are rocketed through it at a quicker clip, propelling you up and out, and this technique will be extremely handy in the later sections where the transporting rainbow beams are seemingly just out of reach and you need momentum to get there. You’ll also enter pools of water hovering in the sky, giving you a tiny leap upon exiting the water. The game is controlled completely by the arrow keys, with left and right for movement and up for jumping.

Scaling the Sky is a fairly simple platformer, but elegant and soothing, with much thanks for its soundtrack, and missing a jump is never harshly rewarded. But when you do nail each jump, especially later when the clouds have dissipated and all you have to work with are large and small bubbles of water, going from one to the other successfully really feels like scaling the sky. Visually, the game is colorful, but limited in its art. Sorry to say, but it initially looks like MS Paint, and the clouds sort of appear like someone just used a large circle eraser on a blue background a couple of times. Though, when you land on or exit the cloud, tiny little puffs sneak out, which is a nice touch. Our sky-climbing woman is garbed in orange, making for a fantastic contrast against all the blue hues of the sky and water pools, and her hair and clothes are constantly moving in the breeze. It’s not going to wow you with its look, but it plays phenomenally and tells a mature, elegant story about the continuous movement of water.