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Topatoi: Pillar of the Skies Review
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The PS3 exclusive Topatoi adventure continues with the second episode entitled Pillar of the Skies. This unique platform mixed with puzzle game requires the first episode to play, with each episode available at a price of £4.79.

Pillar of the Skies begins where the first episode ended. The evil character Blackwing has captured your girlfriend and transported to another world, taking her to the top of the Pillar Skies. As you can imagine, you courageously follow into this new, unknown world in order to save your girlfriend and get revenge on Blackwing. You once again take control of the oddly named Raph and his handy Hovercraft which is nicknamed GEMMA.

The hovercraft GEMMA is easily controlled using the analogue sticks and pressing X to jump and double-trapping X to double-jump, allowing you to reach higher places. To navigate up inclines and knock objects over, you must increase the amount of spin GEMMA has and this is done by tapping the R2 button as fas as possible, and will result in speeding up GEMMA. You can also jump further whilst spinning. To counteract this motion, you can use the L2 button to decrease the amount of spin GEMMA has and this allows you extra control in tight situations. The controls work well in Pillar of the Skies and help make climbing and navigating the countless platforms and obstacles a breeze.

Balancing on that crate must take some doing!

The level design isn’t quite as good however. The path you must take is often unclear due to seemingly hard puzzles. If you fall off the edge of the map, you must restart from a checkpoint and this can often be a fair while back, wasting your time trying to get to the puzzle again, only to fall off after failing to solve the puzzle and having to replay the whole process. You must collect blue orb-type objects throughout levels to keep GEMMA’s fuel supply healthy. A countdown timer on the screen shows how much fuel you have remaining, and this timer rapidly decreases, putting you under pressure to solve puzzles. This can be frustrating as the added pressure will make you fall off the platform, having to replay a whole gameplay segment again and losing more fuel as you do so. This could especially prove an annoyance for younger gamers and will more than likely discourage them from completing the game.

The physics engine present in Topatoi: Pillar of the Skies is impressive and makes objects such as blocks fall and big boulders move realistically. The enemy A.I is not so impressive however, along with the combat system itself. Defeating an enemy is like being in a bumper car; increase your spin using the R2 button and knock him off the map or simply move out of the way and see your foe foolishly fly off the map. There really isn’t much skill involved when you meet the enemies of the game, and this is a real shame as it dumbs down the gameplay and makes you feel it could have been so much better.

The Pillar of the Skies episode brings 7 new chapters to Raph’s adventure, providing approximately 5 hours of gameplay. 10 new levels are also added to the arcade mode, and this is where the game really shines. If you are yet to play the first episode, arcade mode offers you a totally different experience from the story mode where you must navigate futuristic looking levels, collecting fuel and stars for GEMMA. I gained much more enjoyment playing the arcade mode than the story mode due to finding more solid platform gameplay and less annoying puzzles and poor tedious enemy fights. A co-op mode will also be made available if you purchase Pillar of the Skies and solving puzzles and spinning through the levels with a friend is sure to increase the enjoyment you can have with the game. The co-op is only split-screen however which means you must own 2 Sixaxis controllers and have a friend round your house to play. Being able to play over the Playstation Network with random people or friends alike would have added a whole new element to the game and tons of replayability, and therefore I feel the developer Boolat missed out on a great opportunity here.

Controlling the GEMMA certainly requires skill

Pillar of the Skies brings along 11 new Trophies for you to unlock which will add replayability to the game for those who want to boost their gamercard

Overall, Pillar of the Skies is a decent platforming game which tries to bring new ideas to the genre. Some of these ideas work well, and some flat out fail. For the current price of £4.79, an addition of 7 new story chapters, 10 new arcade levels and a split-screen co-op mode seems like a pretty good deal to me. I recommend purchasing Pillar of the Skies if you enjoyed the first episode. If you are yet to enter the Topatoi world, I recommended only purchasing the first episode entitled The Great Tree first to see whether the game is for you or not.

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Topatoi: Pillar of the Skies Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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