Isles of Sea and Sky Packs Puzzles into a LOZ Style Aesthetic
Image via Gamera Games

Isles of Sea and Sky Packs Puzzles into a LOZ Style Aesthetic

I love the aesthetic of classic Game Boy Color games. The minimalistic tones, as well as the creativity of developers working within the system’s limitations, meant we got to see some strikingly stylish titles. While Cicada Games didn’t have that kind of hardware limitations, Isles of Sea and Sky has the same sort of atmosphere and really pays tribute to that retro approach.

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A good way to think of Isles of Sea and Sky is as a Sokobon sort of block-pushing game with a little more ambiance and meet to it. I liked to think of it as being like The Witness in a small way, due to the cohesiveness. You wash up on the shores of an island without any memory of who you are or why you’re there. (I got some serious The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening vibes from the introduction.) After an encounter with a young woman, you gradually go from one island to another in the chain to learn more about their history and what’s going on.

Now, you’ll notice I mentioned The Witness up there, rather than continuing to focus on The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. There’s some LOZ elements there! Especially in that as you get to different islands and meet the masters living there, you gain new abilities. Some come from items, others from creatures. However, there is also an open-world approach. So you are getting the freedom to choose where you go and what you try to do, even though some progression is limited until you find the right abilities to complete the puzzles there. 

Also, there is no combat whatsoever. Isles of Sea and Sky is all about exploring and using your brain to overcome challenges. Brawn? I mean, it takes some serious muscles to move blocks around. But really, it is about challenging how you think about the space and move items around to proceed. Coupled with a capability to rewind, it really becomes about seeing how you best approach situations in the way you feel most comfortable.

It’s really quite brilliant. Especially since some of the puzzles in Isles of Sea and Sky can be truly confounding. I’ll admit sometimes I felt a bit bad or even stupid when I didn’t realize certain other abilities were tied to progress, and that would be what was keeping me from success. Also, even though it is an open world game, I did sometimes feel like the nature of some requiring certain abilities keep it from truly being a “go anywhere, solve puzzles at any time” adventure. I appreciate the notion, but the actual execution means I’m about seven hours into it and having trouble enjoying myself sometimes because I need certain skills I lack to progress.

I appreciate what Isles of Sea and Sky does. I love the ambiance, and I enjoy looking for puzzles to solve. I’m not the biggest fan of sometimes finding ones that are impossible to complete at the moment because of the need to eventually head certain ways and earn certain means to make headway. But I do applaud the ideas in play and think it can be quite fun. 

Isles of Sea and Sky is available for PCs

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Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.