“Now that he was navigating, his celestial mood was shattered. Wild, animal thirst for life, mixed with homesick longing for the free airs and the sights and smells of earth-for grass and meat and beer and tea and the human voice-awoke in him.” – C.S. Lewis
The Navigator is a 2D puzzle-platformer set amongst the high seas. Players assume the role of a young boy and must align celestial rocks in a mysterious world in order to lead him on his journey. It was created by a team of developers at the IT University of Copenhagen.
Developer: Team Navigator
Released: August 2018
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Available on: Steam
The Navigator consists of four chapters, all made up of 3-4 levels. Players must use a hook and robe to navigate from their ship to the celestial bodies above. From here they need to clamber between the planets, rearranging them to reach a designated location. Planets are coloured according to their size and only those smaller than the planet currently being stood on can be pulled towards the player. This cannot be undone but the level can be reset at any point. From chapter three onwards, sunlight is required to reach different points in order for the finishing location to activate on arrival, adding a whole new element of challenge to this meditative puzzle-platformer.
The gameplay is based on a fairly simple set of mechanics but they are implemented in such a way that the end result is a relaxing puzzle that builds slowly in difficultly and culminates in a bit of a challenge. It will require some thought but certainly won’t be stressful in any way.
Narrative and Styling
The Navigator has very little story, if any. However, the way progression from day to night and back to day again provides a sense of time passing for the protagonist which adds to the sense of progression. When teamed with the introduction of the sunlight mechanic, this gives the game an upbeat feel overall.
The styling of the game is a real highlight, the detailed but simplistic linework selectively coloured with vibrant watercolour washes and blooms make for a really distinct and beautiful aesthetic. The music is also noteworthy, with the game menu and level select screen featuring evocative strings and melodic piano, moody and melancholy in their combination and vaguely reminiscent of Jessica Curry’s Dear Esther OST. During sections of gameplay, it becomes much more ethereal and even has a jolly, jovial tone in places.
The game also has some nice sound effects, if a bit obscure. For example, the relaxing sound of crickets at night plays peacefully during chapter two despite the fact that the game takes place in the middle of the ocean! While this doesn’t add to any sense of immersion it helps the experience to feel relaxing and calm. There is also a helpful chime that plays when the player makes headway on a puzzle.
The Navigator has a unique aesthetic, some really lovely sound design and solid gameplay. It will take 1 to 2 hours to play and provides just enough of a challenge to be satisfying, whilst remaining a truly relaxing game throughout. This is an easy title to recommend to puzzle fans, especially as it is a free game!
If you’d like to read about some more recently released puzzle-platformers, check out:
Mage Drops: A New Magical Mini-Golf Puzzle-Platformer – In My Shadow: A Brand New Puzzle-Platformer