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Skyward review: Addictive and fun, but with sneaky advertising

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The Good Skyward is addictive and challenging, but also extremely satisfying when you put together a good run.

The Bad The random full-page ads between levels are annoying.

The Bottom Line Despite the tricky advertising, Skyward is a fun free game that focuses on timing and keeping it together as you go for the high score.


7.8 Overall
  • Setup 9
  • Features 8
  • Interface 7
  • Performance 8

Skyward (iOS|Android) is a free game that challenges you to move two rotating dots through a constantly changing world by tapping to make each "step" along your path. The game is as challenging as it is frustrating, but is also incredibly addictive as you try to keep moving forward without making mistakes.

At first glance, Skyward looks a lot like Monument Valley , the popular iOS puzzle game. Both offer constantly shifting surroundings, and they even share the same general design language; but that's where the similarities stop. Instead Skyward is a game about timing and trying to survive as long as possible.

It's important to note right away that this free game is ad-supported. Not only is there an ad at the bottom of the screen at all times, but big ads pop-up full screen and it's hard not to press on them.

Jump right in

When you first launch Skyward you start playing the game immediately. There is no tutorial beyond the words "Tap to Step" that sit just above the dots on the screen.

Placed on a platform is a red dot, with a blue dot circling it. The dots essentially play a game of leapfrog, tapping on the screen plants the circling dot on your path and causes the second dot to start rotating. A dot can make two rotations before it shrinks and disappears, abruptly ending the level. In this manner, you step forward by tapping and planting the next dot earning a point for each step you take.

If the dot is off the platform when you tap, even by the slightest bit, the game ends and you will have to start all over.

Unlocking patterns

As you reach various score milestones, different patterns are unlocked. Patterns are stretches of path that have a unique feature that will effect your run. For example, one pattern has blocks with lighting bolts on them, and when you have several of them together, it means you'll need to tap more quickly than usual to continue stepping forward. There are several different patterns available that keep the game interesting, but they also make it much more challenging.

That's why it's a little odd that you're greeted with a large "Congratulations" message when you unlock one and a preview of the new pattern is displayed. At first I thought new patterns were a reward, only to soon find out that a new pattern serves to increase the difficulty of the game.

I don't know about you, but when I'm playing a game and see "Congratulations," I'm hoping for something that will make the game easier. With Skyward it's more like "Congratulations, the game is about to get harder!"

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