Sky by Ketchapp is a fun Pac-Man style game
Ketchapp is a French indie game studio (not a ketchup brand as you’d think) that had an explosive growth in the past 2 years since it was born. If you’ve played some Google Play games (or iOS for that matter) for sure you’ve tried their games. Their success came after they’ve ported the open-source 2048 game to the iOS appstore, but they’ve pretty much had success with every other game released. While some are influenced by other popular games (i.e. Flappy Bird), others are genuinely new ideas and ZigZag was one of them. Given that they have now over 45 games published on Android you can imagine their growth rate.
Sky is their latest release and resembles a bit with ZigZag, which is a good thing since that game was (and still is) awesome. In Sky though the main idea is this, you are a square that slides on a continuously generated maze that’s filled with obstacles. All you need to do is jump over those obstacles and collect as many coins as possible. When you hit one obstacle you die, there are no upgrades, no resurrections or anything, just die and start over. So clearly this creates a bit of frustration that’s borderline with addiction, which is afterall a good thing if you’re looking for a casual game. You can see my quick attempt at breaking a personal record here (which surprisingly I did):
The environment is material-design-like, with simplicity in mind and a focus on your character. After a while you’ll only see the maze that’s in front of you and nothing else. Your character does some neatly animated jumps over obstacles or smashes into little bits when the inevitable crash happens. If you’ve played Monument Valley you’ll recognize a tiny similarity, for me the long columns/towers were the trigger.
Once you start playing the game and get used to its style the addiction kicks in. The challenging and innovative part comes when your little square clones itself. There are some sort of cloning/teleportation green tents that, once you get in, will clone your character. While sometimes is helpful to have multiple clones on screen as if one dies you still got the other, most of the times this just adds to the difficulty of the game. It’s one thing to control 1 character and have it jump over blocks, and a totally different thing to control 2 or more at once given that each might have a different type of obstacle. It’s also the main thing in the game that will make you play over and over this game as I find it being the most challenging part in the game and what drives you mad enough to replay. So kudos to them for planting this “hook” in the game.
The game is fun and enjoyable, it’s something I’d replay if I had the chance to kill some time, but there are some things that I don’t like about it:
- First of all, right when you start the game you get a prompt to link your Google Play Services account. To me that’s something irritating since you don’t even know what the game is about before you’re being asked to link your account. That should be asked further down the road after you tap on the Leaderboard icon for instance.
- Second, the ads. When you start the game (i.e. for the first time) you see an ad that promotes other games developed by Ketchapp. Then under it you see another ad. Again, this should’ve been handled more graciously given that you see the game for the first time and the impression you get is that there are too many interactions.
- Lastly, though this might not be the game’s fault, I try most games on an emulator called Bluestacks. Well for some reason every now and then Sky just quits and you have to restart it. No error message or anything. This might be Bluestacks’ fault too, so I’m overlooking it.
Anyway, aside these inconveniences (that the dev maybe is working on fixing already) the game is pretty fun. You gather coins every “step you make” and right now the only way you can use those is by purchasing other characters. If you want to play with a Unicorn instead of the default square you’ll need to gather 5,000 coins and try your luck – characters are unlocked randomly from what I could test out. How tough is it to gather coins? Well, tough enough. Most of the times I got between 100-200 coins in a single run, so an average of 25 plays to get that kind of money. While it doesn’t show any IAP the game does let you watch videos to receive coin rewards and you get 900 coins each time you play a video.
Here are the features you should look up to in Sky:
- Easy Controls, Difficult Gameplay. The main positive thing about Sky is how fast you learn to play it due to the easy controls. Your square (or other character) continuously slides in a maze and all you have to do is tap if you want it to do a quick jump or double tap if you need to have it jump higher. Yet the easiness in game controls is “compensated” by the difficulty in advancing very far. While some obstacles are easy to jump over (i.e. straight line maze with single obstacles), things get insane fast. The maze changes direction multiple times (i.e. a 90 degrees corner followed by a zig-zag pattern) and also your character clones itself. Sounds cool to have multiple characters but the thing is sometimes that makes it even more difficult because each reacts to the same tap but their maze path is different.
- Multiple Characters. In the beginning there was the square. Then God created everything from the circle to Unicorns. I’m kidding of course but those are basically Sky characters. You start off with a plain square (that does nice animations when jumping) and for 5000 coins you can unlock one of the 10 other characters: circle, cube, heart, rose, apple, ninja, bird, skull, dragon, unicorn. However unlocking a particular character is not that easy. Basically the character unlocked is random, so you never know exactly what you’ve unlocked. The game is young having been released only recently, so I’m sure more characters will follow and probably some IAP linked to that (right now there are no IAP except the one-time $2 payment to remove ads).
- Let there be COINS. Your goal is to stay alive as long as possible and collect as many coins as possible. There are coins everywhere in the maze and they count as collected even if you jump over them, so that’s nice. It kind of has a Pac-Man feeling because of the coin collection style. Also, coins = score so the more you advance the better your score. My personal best was a bit over 400 which you’ll learn after you play that’s quite the challenge to achieve. If you want to connect with Google Play Services you’ll also be able to play “who’s got the biggest one” with your friends. I’m talking about scores, of course.
- Clean Graphics. What I enjoy in most (if not all) Ketchapp’s games is the clean graphics and overall game scenery. Sky falls within the same category and offers a clean 3D maze world with all sorts of obstacles. Developer says that the scenery is procedurally generated so it will seem different each time and they also tout 100 unique levels though I’ve never managed to finish one. Each character you play with has an unique animated trail, my only complaint being that I would’ve expected the Unicorn character to shoot out rainbows instead of… well you’ll need to see for yourself. The scenery has a “je ne sais quoi” vibe that I felt when playing Monument Valley too.
I recommend Sky to everyone that likes to play casual games, even if those start ads annoyed me a bit. You get over those pretty fast by the time you encounter those cloning tents or accelerators. The pace is pretty fast and there’s no place for mistake in Sky which keeps you active and hooked onto the gameplay with the sole purpose of beating your own best score. Sure, for now you can’t do much with coins rather than unlocking new characters, but it is the first release so I’m sure other things will be included, especially since the game is one of the top new game releases and Ketchapp is constantly releasing updates and new games.