Gathering Sky, by A Stranger Gravity, is a rare game that calms and focuses you. It’s coming out on August 13 for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Here’s what we learned about it from our demo at PAX East.
I played Gathering Sky on an iPad using my finger on the touch screen to guide a flock of birds through the sky. As you fly along, the initial bird will collect others into its flock. There’s no destination, but the birds will follow where you lead and wind gusts propel you through each level. You can break away from the wind and explore the nooks and crannies of the world or follow it as it loops and curves.
You might hit obstacles and scatter your flock, but it will reform around your finger and continue moving forward. While I was playing Gathering Sky I wanted nothing more than to sit down and lose myself in its art and music. Gathering Sky has an original score by Dren McDonald, who has composed music for Ravenwood Fair and The String Arcade. It was recorded by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Here’s an article about its development.
I hope this soundtrack will be released at some point, because it’s really lovely. (ETA: Dren McDonald has put the soundtrack up on Soundcloud. Give it a listen!)
The music responds to your progress through each of the levels. In a fast level, as I was being whipped around by wind currents, it urged me forward with frantic strings. The landscapes below are based on satellite photos and rendered in a painterly style that reminded me a lot of Van Gogh. The levels seamlessly blend together as your flock flies into a thick fog at the end of each level and emerges in a new place.
This is a really beautiful game, one designed to get lost in. The music and the visuals work together to bring the player into a state of focus. The tactile aspect of the game, and the fact that you can’t lose, will make this a great choice for younger players. It was genuinely fascinating to watch and immediately relaxing. I think Gathering Sky will have applications in helping kids practice focus. Its meditative qualities were never boring, and it was simple and transfixing all at once.
Here is the latest trailer for Gathering Sky: