Each year, Gamma entrants are asked to make games under certain constraints. This year, all Gamma4 entries must be controlled with a single button. I plan to write up my impressions of all six Gamma4 games.
Michael Todd's Silent Skies is probably the most orthodox Gamma4 finalist, though that's obviously not saying much. Where B.U.T.T.O.N. plays like a real-life WarioWare microgame, and Poto and Cabenga feels like an attempt to make your head explode in as short a time period as possible, Silent Skies is comparatively straightforward: you control a plane. That's pretty much it.
Silent Skies may lack the "wow" factor of the other Gamma4 games, but it's very much a solid, pleasingly varied experience.
Hit the jump for my impressions.
Again: you're a plane. If you hold the button, you turn right. If you don't hold the button, you turn left. Simple.
Each of Silent Skies' levels tasks the player with a different goal, while keeping the control scheme the same. The first level teaches you the ropes by giving you the relatively humdrum task of collecting a few floating stars sprinkled throughout the area. In level two, your plane automatically drops bombs and you've gotta destroy all the enemy trains below (don't bother ask why you're doing it, or why the trains are your enemy, or why they can't fire back -- just blow stuff up and don't complain).
In level three, the collectible stars are back, only this time you've gotta avoid getting hit by kamikaze fighters.
I won't spoil the final level, as it's unquestionably the coolest of the game.
Silent Skies isn't the kind of game that will make you stand up and cheer, or think about a particular mechanic in a way you've never considered before. It's not mechanically or mentally challenging. It is, quite simply, a well-paced game that doesn't wear out its welcome. The very second you're likely to grow tired of one sort of gameplay, Silent Skies moves on to something completely different. Of course, this means the entire game is over in a matter of minutes, but hey -- I never got bored while playing, and there's definitely something to be said for that.