Play as a little plane following the airflow and updrafts of a cloudy busy sky in Jetstream, a fun and clever sliding-puzzle game.
Jetstream, from Clockwork Acorn, is a simple-seeming game of sliding a plane through the air to get it to reach its destination. However, it is never as simple as that — your plane will jet to the maximum extent in the direction you input, blasting along until it comes into contact with a cloud or obstacle, at which point you can input another direction. Every few levels you unlock a new mechanic — passage from side to side of the map, pollution clouds, force direction pads and more.
The real joy of Jetstream comes in its simple, direction-only input. That, paired with a simple visual clarity (although not as simple as its predecessor/prototype Streamline), makes for an experience that is very easy to pick up and quite hard to get frustrated with. If you do get stuck, though, Jetstream never fails you or sends you back to a menu. Instead, you can simply reverse out of the situation you were in, all the way back to the start if you wish, before giving it another go. Another interesting note is that all of the icons and information are purely visual; there are no reading requirements, nor any sound-based notifications. It is pure and simple — simple enough to be understood by anybody along the language comprehension spectrum.
I played through a couple of dozen levels whilst at EGX earlier in the year; Jetstream was in the Leftfield Collection there and, while it certainly wasn’t as physically or narratively unique as most of the other games on show there, its ability to advance the difficulty and complexity of the sliding-object game, all while keeping the design easy to understand and minimal… that’s impressive, and certainly not conventional. So maybe it does deserve a place there. Since EGX, I’ve completed the previously mentioned Streamline a couple of times and remain very eager to see the full version of Jetstream.
Jetstream will be launching in late 2018 for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. You can follow development of the game through the developer’s Twitter, @ClockworkAcorn.