Castles in the Sky is the debut game from indie studio The Tall Trees. A sort of interactive picture book, the game follows a small boy as he makes his way up into the sky using a mixture of clouds and balloons.
The gameplay is fairly simplistic. The boy can jump a fair distance and height and this is one of the main ways you will use to climb the screen. Mouse controls are a little twitchy but they do work once you get the hang of it and you’ll soon be flinging yourself around the screen and landing on the passing clouds with relative ease.
As well as jumping, our little hero can hang onto balloons which will further help in his ascent. There are a few moments which require fairly precision jumping but nothing that’s really going to halt your progress and you won’t die, simply falling down to a cloud below. There’s also a few ring like objects to collect that make a pleasant noise but don’t really add much else. You see, Castles in the Sky isn’t really about the challenge, it more about what you feel while playing.
Throughout your climb beautifully orchestrated and emotive music plays as lines from a story book style poem appear on the screen. As you reach each new section more lines appear and little graphical touches and flourishes will present themselves to further add to the atmosphere. We won’t give anything away but just rest assured that the content is handled with subtlety and a clear understanding of storytelling and feeling that will make even the most cynical person smile.
The game itself isn’t very long and you’ll likely finish it in ten to fifteen minutes. But what it does is provide a perfect little sanctuary of peace and serenity on your computer. It’s somewhere to hide for a few moments or during a lunch break. It’s hard to see anyone playing this and not feeling just a little bit better and more at peace after the experience.
Castles in the Sky marks a skilled and interesting debut for The Tall Tress. They clearly have an eye for detail, atmosphere and storytelling and that’s something that we look forward to being further developed in future. For now we have bite sized chunk of serenity to enjoy and it is well worth making sure you give it a try.