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Inside a Star-Filled Sky Impressions

by: David Sanchez ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

We take a look at this unique indie shoot 'em up.

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    Exploring a Vast Shooter

    Inside a Star-Filled Sky 

    Indie developers are constantly attempting to explore different alternatives to the standard ways in which video game genres are approached. By adding a conceptual idea to their games, these indie devs make their titles stand out. Inside a Star-Filled Sky is an attempt to provide an alternative to the standard shooter formula by allowing you to explore differnt levels within its levels. The game is without a doubt bizarre, pretentious, and most importantly attention-grabbing.

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    Not Your Typical Shooter

    The first thing you need to implant in your head before playing is that Inside a Star-Filled Sky is not your typical shooter. Heck, this game isn't even an atypical shooter. This compelling indie title stands in a league of its own thanks to the daring approach it offers, encouraging gamers to obsessively explore its depths in a manner all its own.

    It took me about an hour to really get what developer Jason Rohrer was trying to convey with his ambitious shooter. Because I didn't go into this game thinking it would be vastly different from any other shooter I'd played before, it was hard for me to really grasp its message--it was difficult for me to truly enjoy it. Though I certainly respected the game, I found myself trying hard to really like it.

    So what did I do? I exited the game, read its "About the Game" section on Steam, and then fired it up once more.

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    Understanding This Game

    Inside a Star-Filled Sky is much, much more than a standard shooter. 

    Upon taking Inside a Star-Filled Sky for a second run, I quickly grasped its concept. I took in everything the game had to offer in a matter of minutes. This time around, I wasn't trying to enjoy the game. I wasn't thinking about liking it. I just did. Jason Rohrer pulled a fast one on me. Though it may not have been his intention, I was initially tricked into believing that this shooter would be mostly basic in its design with an intriguing gameplay mechanic incorporated into it. Oh, how wrong I was.

    In order to understand Inside a Star-Filled Sky, you need to first understand that this game focuses on exploring each corner of its world a lot more than it does on the actual shooting. That being said, gunning down enemies is still an integral part of the experience, especially in the later parts of the game. This is because Inside a Star-Filled Sky is indeed a shoot 'em up, but it poses an infinite world for you to investigate, play around in, and get totally lost within.

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    Playing the Game

    The first couple of levels of Inside a Star-Filled Sky are simple and teach you the shooting aspect of the game. You must reach a checkpoint within each level in order to progress. Simply leave your character motionless, and a path will appear to tell you where to go. Along the way you encounter enemies. At first, you can probably get through most of these just by going around them, though they are weak enough to take down with a single shot. As you progress, you come across collectible tokens that reward you with power-ups. These range from bullet increases, spread shots, and health.

    As you move along level after level, the in-game text tutorial introduces you to a couple of new gameplay elements. You can literally enter you enemies and change their actions. You can go inside a power-up and change its function. Hell, you can enter yourself and boost your build-up. This game a shooter, but it's also an exploratory journey inside itself. As you enter different entities, you discover levels within them. You can continue to enter levels within levels, and rest assured, doing so will cause a major boost in the game's difficulty.

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    So Is It a Shooter or Not?

    The game daringly challenges you to ponder different solutions rather than just blindly shooting away at foes. 

    Make no mistake about it, Inside a Star-Filled Sky is in fact a 2D shoot 'em up. Though the actual shooting is fairly simple in the beginning, later levels don't go easy on you. As a matter of fact, they're pretty freaking tough. Enemies go from lowly peons to tough as nails baddies that shoot rapidly and chase you around the screen. What starts off as an inviting title quickly turns into a challenging romp that harks back to the old school titles of yesteryear. That in and of itself makes it worth downloading.

    But Rohrer didn't just want to give gamers a hard shooter. No, he wanted to do something more.

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    Ingenuity Makes This Game Different

    By providing the essentials necessary in any good shooter, Rohrer provided a game that fans of the old school will instantly be drawn to. However, by adding this recursive mechanic, he also created what appears to be one of the most intriguing games in recent memory. Inside a Star-Filled Sky is a game full of endless levels and endless meta-levels. Within each of these meta-levels lie even more meta-levels. You will never see all that this game has to offer, because it offers more and more and more within its confines, which makes you wonder whether or not there really are confines here.

    Inside a Star-Filled Sky is a game that invites anyone with an open mind to experience all the goodness that it has to offer, and after just a couple of hours playing, I'd recommend giving it a go.