The Shine of a Star



Genre:   Adventure

Developer:  Forgotten Key

Publisher:    Lezard Interactive

Released:  January 2012

PC Requirements:  

  • OS : Windows XP / Vista / 7 (32 or 64-bit)

  • CPU: Intel P4 or AMD Athlon 64

  • RAM: 1 Gb

  • HDD: 150 MB




by flotsam


A star falls to earth, and wants to go home. A variety of woodland creatures want other things. By achieving the latter, the star arrives at a place from which the sky is but a splash and a ripple away.

Short and sweet, The Shine of a Star is a lilting and gentle interlude in whatever hecticness is going on around you.

It's entirely without dialogue, but not without sound. The musical accompaniment does much to set the tone and the pace, and little “picture bubbles” convey what a character might be thinking or feeling or needing. Hand drawn 2D environments complete the picture. Point and click and stroll about – finding things here, doing things there, solving a puzzle now and then.

I did some rummaging around, which is so much easier with the interweb, and unearthed the following:

“…games can most certainly be art. However, they seldom are. Why is that? I put trust in the introspection of myself and conclude that I very rarely have been emotionally involved in events happening in games. I am an escapist in heart and mind and often do I flee to the realm of imagination with the help of books, movies and games just to feel, and often have I cried during moments of overwhelming emotional response. Though never whilst playing a game”.

To digress for a moment, I too have never cried whilst playing a game, although there have been moments of (if perhaps not overwhelming) intense emotional response – playing hide and seek with the small boy in Blackstone Chronicles, climbing down the ladder into the darkroom in Faust, and emerging from the castle onto the bridge with Yorda in Ico. There will have been others, along with a gamut of other emotions in the many games I have passed through.

To return to the quote, it is from a short observation by Robin Hjelte, who with The Shine of a Star might have been trying to design a gaming experience tipped towards the emotional. Not one that will make you cry, but one in which the absence of the spoken word accentuates the thoughts and feelings of the characters. They aren’t deep, or even subtle, but by being unspoken they are a little more poignant. Or at least I thought so.

If you rummage some more you will find other short games by Robin, all of which seem to have started life as short projects at BTH, which some further rummaging revealed is the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlshamn, Sweden. One of them, Past Tense, was like a little snippet of isabelle (which in my world is praise indeed), and I have downloaded a few others.

Robin didn’t make the game all by himself. Forgotten Key is four students, all from the BTH, who started a game studio on the strength of winning a prize at the 2011 Game Concept Challenge. I rummaged some more to find out about that, but it was all in Swedish.

I did find several musical pieces at SoundCloud by Cajsa Larsson, including four which accompany The Shine of a Star. "The Lament of the Stone-Mushroom People" says much in its title about the nature of the score.

I got the star back to its cloud, not terribly long after he/she fell, and not terribly sure how. Most of the challenge is finding what you need and using it where it's needed, in minimal amounts. A pattern recognition puzzle held me up the longest, despite knowing what the pattern was I was looking for – one of those delightful “doh” moments that we get from games.

The Shine of a Star isn’t expensive, it won’t take you long, and it has won a prize. Forgotten Key might be worth watching.


I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz

Ram: 4.00GB DDR2 400MHz

Gx card: ATI Radeon HD 3850 512Mb

The Shine of a Star is an Independent production of Forgotten Key, and can be downloaded from the The Adventure Shop.

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