The market is flooded with side scrolling, twitch reaction, space shooters, but despite this saturation there are still unique titles expanding on the genre. Really Big Sky is one such title, but does it do enough keep you from looking elsewhere?
Really Big Sky - the sequel to Big Sky - by Boss Baddie improves on the original and brings a whole host of unique and interesting elements to the genre to make the experience feel pleasantly fresh. It’s still about intensely bright colours from weapons fire, enemies and the gaseous clouds of space as you fly from left to right destroying and dodging everything in sight, but progress is far more rewarding and far less about pattern memorisation. Randomly generated levels make each session a new experience, leaving you to depend on reaction times, whilst a wonderfully original upgrade system steadily improves your chances of survival.
You begin with a weak ship that inevitably gets destroyed early on. However, your score not only dictates your position on the leaderboards but also acts as a currency to purchase upgrades for your ship. Each time you play you earn additional points and gradually strengthen your ship’s weapons, shields, speed and other attributes, and therefore stand an improved chance of progressing a little further. Before long your ship is but a shadow of its former self and it’s as if you’re playing an entirely different game.
The longer you survive the more likely it is you’ll encounter more unique enemies and the impressively huge bosses, which in addition to granting you extra points can also unlock additional games modes. Goals such as destroying three bosses in a single session unlocks one of several extra modes, and as you become stronger and more skilful more and more of these modes, offering a range of different experiences, become available to you.
The Classic Arcade mode is open to you straight from the start and grants you the points to increase your ships attributes. Several other modes act as slight iterations of Classic Arcade but with set upgrades to your ship you must choose at the beginning of each session. One of the more unique modes is Pacifist mode, which gives you no weapons and tasks you to progress as far as you can. Each mode offers something different, whether it’s a drastically different objective – as with Pacifist mode – or just with different load-outs in the arcade modes.
Of course despite the aforementioned elements, you’d be forgiven for thinking Really Big Sky sounds like another R-Type or Galaga clone, but the unique obstacle of planets you need to drill through as well as the aesthetic certainly places Really Big Sky apart from the crowd.
Your reaction times are really put to the test throughout each play session. Enemies and there weapons fire start off manageable but can soon fill the screen with blinding colour from bolts of energy and laser beams cutting through space. Then the massive bulk of a planet comes careening towards you, forcing you to switch to your drill bit, replacing your weapons, so you can safely penetrate the mass. It gets truly intense and exciting. The abundance of colour is also a unique aspect of Really Big Sky. There’s little to no use of black, instead you’re flying through nebulas and gas giants, surrounded by pastel colours. It’s a beautiful use of colour, if a little visually overwhelming during the more intense sections.
Fans of twitch shooters, especially space ones such as R-Type, are certain to find Really Big Sky a welcome addition to their collection. The addictive high-score beating challenge keeps you coming back for more, and the upgrade system and level generator makes each return journey a different experience. It’s a beautiful, exhilarating, and often nackering experience that is hard to put down.
MLG Rating: 9/10
Platform: PC Release Date: 28/06/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Really Big Sky for review purposes by the developer. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.