Review: Really Big Sky
Really Big Sky is a procedurally generated, high-speed twin-stick shooter that features high replayability, high difficulty, upgradable ships, and really freakin huge lasers. Is it a good game?
…uh, did you not read my first sentence?
Fans of developer Boss Baddie will note that Really Big Sky is actually the sequel to their smash hit Big Sky; I’ve only played the first one briefly, but Really Big Sky feels more like an expansion to Big Sky than a tried-and-true sequel. The meat of the game is still in the Classic Mode, which is more like the original game than anything else. A horizontally scrolling level is randomly generated supposedly based on your playing patterns and whatnot, and your goal is clear as much of the level as possible. The catch? One hit kills you, so the first few playthroughs will likely be short and sweet.
That doesn’t sound very fun, of course, so there’s an upgrade system in place where your upgrades are permanent, and rollover to the next subsequent playthroughs. The first two runthroughs were undeniably boring and frustrating to me, but after upgrading the weapons and shields on my ship, I started kicking more ass and thusly having much fun. It’s a great carrot-on-a-stick mechanic, as you can really see your “hard work” pay off when you end up shooting a huge laser that mows down everything in your path.
The more you play Classic, the more of the additional modes can be unlocked, and they’re all worth playing, if not lacking in ingenuity. You have your standard Boss Rush and Timed modes, along with a proper Arcade mode and a Pacifism mode, where you try to go as long as possible without shooting anything. They’re all fairly easily unlockable if you put a little time and effort into the main mode.
Problem is, beyond the upgrading mechanic, Really Big Sky doesn’t exactly motivate you to want the other modes. The gameplay, while fun, can get tedious pretty quickly; this is not a game that you can play for five hours straight, but rather in short fifteen minute bursts. In order to unlock most of the modes, you’re definitely going to need to sit down and really concentrate on what’s essentially a pick-up-and-play shooter. Without any plot or any other driving force, it can be a little difficult.
Additionally, the lack of variety in the enemies and obstacles really limits your ability to stay interested for extended periods of time. A recent update has changed this by adding more ridiculously trippy enemies, but still, fighting against only three or four types of ships can still be taxing on one’s attention span.
Don’t let that discourage you from checking this out though; at $7.99, there’s still a helluva lot of game in one package. I’ve had it for a good couple months, and I still turn it on every now and then and have great times with it. Additionally, Boss Baddie seems pretty vehement on supporting it with constant updates and free content, which is always a plus in my book. The fact that the visuals are strikingly pretty don’t hurt much either.
Just be warned though: if you’re expecting something to grind through in three straight hours, you’re in for one tedious ride. Really Big Sky is a great pick-up-and-play-for-fifteen-minutes game, but not one worth marathoning. If you’re a fan of twin stick shooters with a striking aesthetic, by all means check it out.