Earth And Sky 3: Luminous Horizon

by Paul O'Brian profile

Episode 3 of Earth and Sky

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- Patrick M. McCormick (United States), May 4, 2010

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
Almost, but not quite, a satisfying conclusion, April 26, 2010
by Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.)

There's kind of an illicit thrill in playing a real superhero in IF. For decades now, the overwhelming majority of IF characters have been decidedly un-super in their abilities. Really, they're incompetent, unable to perform even the simplest and most intuitive tasks unless they have exactly the right tool for the job (>BREAK THE SMALL GLASS BOX WITH THE HAMMER | "A valiant attempt."). This is what makes playing the Earth and Sky series (especially in the role of Austin) so refreshing. When you encounter a pair of massive steel doors in Earth and Sky, you don't need to faff around for hours finding the rusty key or inserting the crystalline cylinder or answering a riddle. You simply SMASH THE DOORS. It's a nice bit of therapy for emotionally-scarred IF players.

I really enjoyed the first two games in the series, which combined humor, comic-book action, and a relentless focus on ease-of-play to great effect. Luminous Horizon continues in the same vein, but it's not quite up to the level of the others. The second (and strongest) game centered on an extended puzzle which combined multiple objects and rooms in a pretty satisfying way. Most of the puzzles in the third installment are just variations on SMASH THE DOORS. It's fun and cathartic, but not as rewarding as something a little more elaborate would have been.

One nice feature of Luminous Horizon is the ability to switch back and forth between control of the two siblings, which you'll naturally need to do several times to complete the game. Each sibling sees and describes the world in a different way, which adds a real richness to the experience of playing them.

The author does a good job of eliminating frustration. Like with the other two installments, it's impossible or at least extremely difficult to make the game unwinnable, which is always appreciated. The game also implements a nice (and customizable) conversation system, where you can choose from a menu of replies, ranging from the sincere to the snarky. Unfortunately, your choices don't matter very much -- the game proceeds pretty much the same way no matter how you choose to play the characters.

The conversation system also provides built-in hints. In principle, if you get stuck, you can TALK TO your sibling and get nudged in the right direction. After repeated nudges, the sibling may just solve the puzzle for you. However, for the most challenging puzzle in the game, the hint system is nothing of the kind. It's actually a misdirection system, focusing your attention on something which is almost entirely unhelpful at the moment the advice is being dispensed. Be warned.

At times, it feels like more was planned for the game than was actually implemented. There are areas with interesting objects that can be manipulated, but which don't ultimately matter. There are story threads which seem like they'll be featured prominently (like (Spoiler - click to show)rescuing Dr.
), but which get resolved off-screen. I'd be interested to see what could have been done with this game in a longer format.

If you've played and enjoyed the first two Earth and Sky games, then you certainly ought to give Luminous Horizon a whirl; it's a decent conclusion to the series, and you'll want to know how it ends. But it's not quite as satisfying as it could have been.

- Shchekotiki, August 3, 2009

- Stephen Gilbert (Canada), July 11, 2009

- Newbot, March 8, 2009

- Shigosei, February 16, 2009

- Linnau (Tel-Aviv, Israel), October 31, 2008

- hywelhuws (Clynnog Fawr, Wales, UK), September 21, 2008

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Kapow! Superhero fun!, March 18, 2008
by Steven (Honolulu, Hawaii)

A short, linear game. Luminous Horizon is the 3rd installment of the Earth and Sky series and it helps to be familiar with the first two to follow the story.
The game allows you to control two characters, brother and sister, both with super power suits, "Earth" and "Sky." A command "change" allows you to instantly change between them. Earth has super-strength and near invincibility as his special powers, and Sky is able to fly, fire electrical bolts, and create fogs.
The story truly has the flavor of a comic book, with colorful graphical "kapows," and numerous storyline and dialog cliches taken straight from superhero comic books. The humor in the game is based on making fun of these cliches. A link to a comic book feelie, which provides background info for those who forgot details from or haven't played the other two games, for the game can be downloaded.
The puzzles themselves fit in well with the superhero theme. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that many of the puzzles are solved by using your team's superpowers and action-comic logic. Some of the puzzles are very easy, and some are more difficult requiring wandering back and forth until a "eureka" moment arrives. None of the puzzles are super hard or overly complicated, and talking to your sibling will give progressively bigger clues if you get stuck.
The game is well written, and far as I can tell, bug-free.

- Rose (New Zealand), January 23, 2008

- Benjamin Sokal (Elysium pod planting enclosure on Mars), November 14, 2007

- Stephen Bond (Leuven, Belgium), October 26, 2007

- Quintin Stone (NC), October 23, 2007

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