Earth And Sky 3: Luminous Horizon

by Paul O'Brian profile

Episode 3 of Earth and Sky

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- TheBoxThinker, January 21, 2023

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A superheroic conclusion, December 9, 2021
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2021

(This is a repost of a review I wrote on the IF newsgroups right after the 2004 Comp)

Years in the making, the Earth and Sky saga finally comes to a triumphant end. All the stops are pulled out — both characters are fully playable, leading to enjoyably synergistic puzzle-solving, long-standing mysteries are resolved, though the focus is properly on action rather than explication, and it even comes with a Story Thus Far comic. Elegance is everywhere on display, from the completely in-character hint system to the question-and-answer which integrates the results of your playthroughs of the previous games in the series. And those sound-effect blocks never get old.

Picking up right where part two left off, Luminous Horizon does sadly involve a slightly pedestrian setting — yet another corridor-filled sci-fi installation — but the set-pieces are dense enough and the forward momentum rapid enough that one only notices in retrospect. Likewise, the evil plot isn't particularly interesting in of itself, but as an excuse to indulge in some property damage for justice, it more than serves its purpose. Banter between the siblings makes a welcome return, and it's context-sensitive, entertaining, and gives the floundering player some guidance besides. Overall, the narrative elements once again fit the genre and mood perfectly — Luminous Horizon simply screams "four color supers."

The puzzles likewise are completely in-genre. There are no real object puzzles to speak of — it's all about the clever use of each sibling's superpowers, singly or in conjunction. Many puzzles appear susceptible to solution by either character, allowing the player to pick a preferred approach. There's almost always some action going on, but one never feels too rushed, since the character who isn't being controlled can generally keep the heat off the active PC's back long enough to figure out the best approach. Each section of gameplay is self-contained and clearly set off from the others; while this may lead to some disappointment ("you mean part two is over already?!"), it works to focus attention on the particular crisis at hand and keep the aimless wandering down to practically zero.

It's clear that attention was paid to the smallest detail, and the game was extensively tested. Switching from sibling to sibling, even in the middle of complicated scenes, never resulted in continuity errors or pronoun bugs. Even somewhat nonsensical actions like PUNCH ROAD return a sound effect and a terrible pun. And just when you're thinking that Fire and Rain seems familiar, one character makes the James Taylor reference. Death is possible, but it's always obvious what killed you, and how to go about preventing it. All of this makes Luminous Horizon a pure pleasure to play.

Niggles? A few, I suppose. I spent a fair bit of time experimenting with the gizmos, but could never find a real use for them. They were certainly interesting, but the tinkering felt a little odd, in context. The sequence with Fire and Rain took me a little while to figure out, since I wanted Earth and Sky to both do something simultaneously. The ending might be a little abrupt, although part of that could just be me not wanting the series to be over. Overall, though, these nitpicks do nothing to diminish what's one of the most enjoyable bits of IF out there.

- Edo, February 14, 2021

- Zape, August 19, 2020

- kierlani, April 17, 2020

- Rovarsson (Belgium), November 29, 2019

- Stian, September 14, 2019

- E.K., June 20, 2019

- Pegbiter (Malm๖, Sweden), April 10, 2017

- Denk, July 22, 2016

- Matt Bates, June 12, 2016

- Dhary, March 9, 2016

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Fun superhero story with two PC's where I had trouble guessing the solutions, February 3, 2016

This is part 3 of Earth and Sky. I played the second one only a few weeks ago, but I already forgot an important power of the characters, and it made the first puzzle very hard for me. However, talking to to each other enough gives you all solutions.

You play two characters, one with sky powers (flying, zapping, fogging), and one with earth powers (punching, lifting, jumping). You are trying to rescue your parents.

The game is pretty short, with a linear sequence of puzzles that you have to solve one-by-one. The writing was good, the graphics were fun (mostly "BLAM!"-type comic words). I was disappointed that I had forgotten so much of the plot from the last playthrough.

This game is very good, but not the best. I think that a few of the other games from 2004 IFComp were better, but that the whole set of 3 Earth and Sky games make a very good package, like a Chopped chef that wins because of three solid courses, while the other chefs had one incredible course and a few poor courses.

- Janice M. Eisen (Portland, Oregon), November 30, 2015

- thebloopatroopa, June 3, 2015

- kala (Finland), April 3, 2015

- Thrax, March 23, 2015

- Joshua Houk, October 18, 2014

- Floating Info, March 9, 2014

- Sdn (UK), September 22, 2013

- DJ (Olalla, Washington), February 6, 2013

- Lubulos, September 10, 2012

- Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle), April 16, 2012

- Nemansphere, July 3, 2011

- Rotonoto (Albuquerque, New Mexico), May 16, 2011

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