Review – Forward to the Sky (Switch)
I have no idea why, but I felt compelled to try Forward to the Sky out upon looking at some screenshots and trailer. It did not look like a groundbreaking title, but something about it caught my attention. I thought perhaps it could end up being a fun and relaxing action RPG title of sorts, a good fit for the Switch. It didn’t take long for me to find out that not only was this game a port of an older PC title, but also that, sadly, it’s not very good.
Forward to the Sky is a game about a princess trying to defeat an evil witch by traversing through her trap-infested, maze-like tower, all for glory and other insecurity-related reasons. The main protagonist isn’t any of the actual sentient characters, but the tower itself. By collecting a set amount of crystals (this game’s equivalent of Mario‘s coins) per level, you’ll unlock small bits of lore that explain a bit more of the tower and its mysteries. Sure, it’s written in quasi-Vroom in the Night Sky levels of broken English, but it’s a nice bonus feature nevertheless.
Sadly, unlocking these story bits requires you to play the actual game, and that’s not exactly a good tradeoff. In simple terms, Forward to the Sky feels unfinished. It’s a mix between a 3D platformer and a by-the-books hack n’ slash, featuring clunky hit detection and a sluggish and unfinished combat system, not succeeding at either of its gameplay styles. Even if the platforming is quite decent, you will constantly get hit by a trap located approximately ten miles away from you. It’s an exercise in frustration.
I like the game’s level design, despite its flaws. There are some creative puzzles every now and then, as well as interesting platforming sections. Whenever there isn’t an enemy to kill or a rotating sawblade to avoid, Forward to the Sky feels like a complete and cohesive game. Sadly, these moments are few and far between.
Even though the gameplay is faulty, the game’s real weak spots are its visuals and sound design. This is a quite old PC game that did not require a powerful rig in order to achieve 60fps and a good resolution, but for some unknown reason, this Switch port only runs at a mere 30fps. To add insult to injury, the lighting effects have been dialed down, the resolution isn’t very impressive, and the draw distance is pathetic. There are sections in which freaking Turok on the Nintendo 64 manages to outclass the game in terms of its draw distance, with entire sections of the level just appearing mere feet away from your character.
Finally, there’s the sound design. The soundtrack itself feels a bit cheap and there aren’t that many songs in the overall setlist, but all in all, it’s decent and serviceable. However, whenever a character decides to open their mouth, you’re greeted with voice acting so bad it would make good old Tommy Wiseau shed a tear. It’s so terrible it’s almost charming.
I can actually see hints of a passion project hidden within Forward to the Sky‘s hodgepodge of poorly implemented ideas and technical issues. The developers did include some neat features, such as a story-focused reward system for collecting crystals and a (boring but still existing) horde mode, but at the end of the day, this feels way too clunky and unfinished for what’s basically a port of a Steam game released in 2015. For some ludicrous, borderline abhorrent reason, this game is being sold on the eShop for $49, even though it’s worth, at max, a fifth of that price tag. Considering how Forward to the Sky undeservingly wants to mutilate your wallet, I can’t recommend it to anyone who values their bank account.
I enjoy the overall art style and the character design, but the framerate and poor draw distance are unacceptable.
The platforming is quite good and the puzzles and level design are satisfactory. The game is severely hindered by an occasionally clunky hit detection and its terrible combat mechanics though.
While the soundtrack is somewhat decent, the voice acting is so bad it’s almost charming. The terrible script didn’t help very much in that regard…
Fun Factor: 4.5
You can see hints of a passion project when playing Forward to the Sky. There are some good ideas in here, but this game feels very unfinished, even though it’s a port of a Steam game released in 2015.
Final Verdict: 5.0
Forward to the Sky is available now on PC and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Forward to the Sky was provided by the publisher.