That’s right. In a devastating blow to those keen to dive into Skytorn, Matt Makes Games have confirmed that the project will no longer be completed. The game is no more.
Maybe this doesn’t sound like a very big deal to you. Maybe you’ve never even heard of the title. One game you surely have heard of, however, is Celeste, and that’s exactly the problem.
Celeste is one of those indie titles that can sometimes get lost in the crowd. With the likes of Marvel’s Spider-Man, God of War and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate launching this year, a lot of us would barely give a retro-tastic platformer like Celeste a second glance.
Still, some of the wise, discerning and all-round brilliant editors here on this very site (why, yes, I do deserve a raise, thanks for noticing) know a great thing when they see it. Celeste made a good showing in our The Gamer News Team’s Favorite Games of 2018 feature.
Why? Because the gameplay and physics are rock solid, which is crucial for any platformer, but the story is more emotional and powerful than you’d usually expect from the genre. This is what truly endeared so many of us to Celeste, and what left us itching to see what developer Matt Makes Games would do next. Which brings us back to the sad story of Skytorn.
Skytorn was a Metroidvania the team was working on prior to Celeste, which took a back seat as the latter was released and really took off. Post-Celeste, they weren’t quite sure what to do with their other project. In a heartfelt post (which offers much more detail about Skytorn and the work that had gone into it), Matt Makes Games programmer Noel Berry laid all his cards on the table right away:
“We’re no longer going to be finishing Skytorn. I’m really sorry for those of you who were excited about this game. We were too. We poured a lot of time, energy, and heart into the project and we’re definitely sad it’s never going to see the commercial release we were hoping for.”
What went wrong? As Berry goes on to explain, it was largely a matter of mechanics. “Skytorn just never figured out what it was,” he writes, detailing the conflict between the procedurally-generated elements and the Metroidvania structure. After all, you can’t intricately design a world when it’s also putting itself together automatically, can you?
This was the core conflict that Matt Makes Games just couldn’t resolve, however lovingly they continued to create art and other content for Skytorn. In the end, the difficult decision was made to leave the project incomplete:
“If we were to finish Skytorn I believe it would require us to throw away a lot of the code & gameplay design,” Berry concluded. “A lot of aspects could be kept — our story, the art, the sounds & music, the general theme — but the gameplay would need to go.”
Heartbreaking, yes, but the team have drawn something positive from the experience: “we’re excited for new things and new projects. I’m okay saying it was an amazing learning experience, and we’ll take all these lessons onto our next project.”
That's the kind of can-do, glass half full attitude we should all strive to emulate, as we head into the brave new world of 2019.