Australian Council on Children and the Media

Sky: Children of the Light - thatgamecompany

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Not suitable to 12 and parental guidance recommended for ages 13-15 due to in-app purchases and online connectivity.

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No gambling content found in the levels played

This review of Sky: Children of the Light was completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 12 August 2019.

About the app

This section contains details about the app provided by an ACCM Reviewer.

Name of app: Sky: Children of the Light
Developed by: thatgamecompany
Platform reviewed: Apple App Store
Cost: Free
Developer’s suggested age: 9+
ACCM suggested age: Some reading comprehension and fine motor skills required. Not suitable to 12 and parental guidance 13-15 due to online connectivity, in-app purchasing and opportunities to chat (written notes) to other online players.
Gambling content advice: No gambling content found in the levels played

ACCM review

This review of Sky: Children of the Light contains the following information:

The level to which the game was reviewed

20 hours

App description

Sky: Children of the Light is an engaging, role-playing game with a delightful narrative and outstanding graphics, musical score and sound production. The player explores new lands, finds friends, learns new emotions or gestures for their avatar and saves the sky spirits by returning them to their home constellations. With minimal violence, the game promotes co-operation between players and explores communication through gesture and non-verbal interaction. With little instruction the game relies on the player to creatively explore a restricted open world environment, think strategically, find and solve problems, rescue non-player characters and make connections with other online players.

Many ancestral spirits have fallen from the sky and the player must travel through numerous lands to recover them, sometimes with the help of other concurrent online players, and send the spirits home to their star constellations. Collecting light energy as you go by way of flaming candles (game currency), the player improves or fuels their ability to fly and undertake tasks. In-app purchases of candles are available when the player is at one of the ‘home’ stations scattered about the universe. With the light energy, players can also connect more with favoured in-game friends by giving them a heart or candles, or through writing them a note. As the game progresses it also becomes clear that the player benefits from collecting gestures or emotions that expand their ability to communicate with other players non-verbally. Players can individualise their avatar through buying game packs, which include clothes, hairstyles, gestures and more. Finding where to access the in-app purchases is not entirely obvious and the link is not always available so it is possible to play most of the original game without realising there is in-app purchasing let alone purchase anything. Progressing through the game is marked by gaining access to new locations in the universe, each of which present new challenges for the player.

This entertaining game can be played solo or as a multi-player game using auto-matching through the Game Centre. The adventure has a loosely linear goal but ‘thatgamecompany’ also adds a further dimension by providing the option of purchasing passes to seasonal extensions to the adventure. Players need to be competent readers, however, as the play does not require much reading a less competent reader could easily play with a casual co-player.

Reviewers comments

Sky: Children of the Light is an enjoyable game in which there is plenty to explore and achieve. There are many beautiful videos within the game that expand on the narrative non-verbally. Internet connection is required to play, and the gamer will interact with other players but in an anonymous and largely protected way. It is a very satisfying game to play particularly when the player does not wish to become tense or overexcited during game play. It is non-combative, with enough challenges to satisfy any level of player. Parents should be aware that players can leave messages for other players to read. There are unlimited characters available for engaging in conversations at other locations in the game where a written, live chat can occur.

In App purchasing

  There is In-App purchasing in this game, examples include:

  • When a player has earned enough light to own one candle they are shown where to access the in-app purchases.
  • 3 Candles can be bought for $1.49, and there are more expensive packages of candles available, the highest being 150 for $79.99. In the purchases wing upgrades are included.
  • Candles can be combined to make hearts, which can be given to in-game friends or spirits. The latter may earn the player new outfits or musical instruments.
  • Seasonal music specific to the game can be purchased for $30.99
  • Adventure passes can be purchased for $14.99, which expands the game play and continues the narrative. A pass for 2 people as a package can be purchased for $22.99.
  • When an item is selected for purchase the app links to the Apple security window that asks for face ID or an Apple ID. Once this is passed the purchase is swiftly processed. There are no parental locks or protections other than the Apple ID to deter players.

Whilst the in-app purchases are present, accessing the link to purchase gear can be challenging if you are out of candles. The link is only available in certain locations throughout the universe.

Online information

There is some online connectivity, such as:

  • This game requires online connectivity and will not work without it.
  • When buying an in-app purchase the game requires the player to use their Apple ID, which is generally linked to a credit card or some other payment method that has been previously established.
  • Players can chat to other players in real time through written conversations at particular locations in the universe.

It is not necessary to create an account, provide personal details or connect to social media for this game, though on the start up page it displays the symbols for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter implying some connectivity is possible. The reviewer could not determine how these platforms might interact.

Parents should be aware that on the starter home island, should a player tap on the ‘!’ above the Spirit that reminds players that there is a seasonal adventure available for purchase, a quick link flashes up at the left-hand bottom corner of the screen. Tapping this link takes the player to an explanation screen about the adventure available for purchase. Scrolling to the next page there is an obscure icon (‘Adventure Pass FAQ’) that if touched will take the player to a page out of the game that is ‘thatgamecompany’ developers page. It has more links about how to play ‘Sky: Light Awaits Adventure passes’ and access to a direct question-based link to the company. There is a ‘Contact Us’ link that asks for the enquirer’s name, email, message box and a robot check test.

 Via the App store page parents can link to thatgamecompany’s privacy policy.

Gambling

At the time of review, the reviewer found no simulated gambling content. If you discover simulated gambling content in this app, please contact us with the details so we can update our review.

Advertising and product placement

There is no advertising or product placement in this game.

Gender stereo types and sexual references

None noted

Coarse language

None noted

Game playing behaviour which may be of concern to some parents

None noted

Other

In one of the later levels there is a creature that absorbs the players cache of light. This is mildly aggressive but is also the only major confrontational stage in the game as far as the reviewer experienced.

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Content is age appropriate for children this age

Some content may not be appropriate for children this age. Parental guidance recommended

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Gambling content advice

Simulated casino style gambling. Not suitable for minors

Contains some elements of gambling. Some content is not recommended for minors. Parental guidance recommended

No gambling content found in the levels played

About games and gambling

Most games contain elements of risk, chance and knowledge, that is why they are fun to play. There is growing concern about the impacts of simulated gambling games on the health and wellbeing of children. That's why we are identifying games that contain gambling elements on our site.

The State Government of South Australia's web site http://nogame.com.au/ contains information about these concerns.