Inside a Star-filled Sky is an infinite, recursive, tactical shooter by award-winning designer Jason Rohrer (Passage, Between). What if you could enter an object in a level and find a level inside of it? What if you could enter an object in that level and find another level inside of that?
User reviews: Mostly Positive (67 reviews)
Release Date: May 14, 2011

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Reviews

“A beautiful, violent crumb from infinity's table”
9/10 – IGN

“Eloquently translates the incomprehensible concept of infinity into game form... Alternately maddening and sublime”
4/5 – GamePro

About This Game

Inside a Star-filled Sky is an infinite, recursive, tactical shooter by award-winning designer Jason Rohrer (Passage, Between). What if you could enter an object in a level and find a level inside of it? What if you could enter an object in that level and find another level inside of that?

What if you could change an enemy or a power-up from the inside? What if you could enter and change yourself? What if these levels inside levels inside levels went all the way down---and all the way up?

Inside a Star-filled Sky is a hard, procedurally-generated shmup built around this core concept.

Key features:

  • Unique recursive gameplay
  • Enter things---enemies, power-ups, and even yourself---to alter them for your tactical advantage
  • Procedurally generated levels, along with a massive bullet combo system, offer limitless tactical variety
  • Dozens of ways to approach each challenge---reflex your way through, blast your way through, or think your way through
  • Dynamic soundtrack is procedurally generated based on moment-to-moment gameplay
  • Plant your flag throughout an infinite level space to mark your discoveries, and see flags planted by others via a global flag server

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
    • OS: Windows XP
    • Processor: 900 MHz
    • Memory: 40 MB
    • Hard Disk Space: 10 MB
    • Video Card: Onboard Graphics
    • Sound: Standard Audio
    • OS: OS X version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later.
    • Processor: 900MHz Intel
    • Memory: 40 MB
    • Hard Disk Space: 10 MB
    • Video Card: Onboard Graphics
    • Sound: Standard Audio
Helpful customer reviews
45 of 58 people (78%) found this review helpful
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 5, 2013
Inside a Star-Filled Sky is a game developed by the lone indie developer Jason Rohrer. Inside a Star-Filled Sky is exactly the type of game I'd expect to see win some kind of award at the IGF - but winning an award at the IGF doesn't necessarily mean it's a good game.

Insidie a Star-Filled Sky is a novel concept and little more. The game itself is themes around the idea of recursion where you 'enter' power ups and enemies. While this is a nice idea it doesn't really impact the gameplay that much and each item you enter is effectively just the next room. I did appreciate the power up mechanics. You can collect up to 3 powerups and they can be combined in interesting ways to produce interesting effects. This fact alone, however, is not enough to merit a recommendation from me.

As a product, the game is very unpolished and feels like a prototype - for example editing the controls involves manually editing a config file. There's also no sound effects to speak of, just some ambiance music.

There are some nice ideas here but I don't feel the developer took time to flesh them out into a compelling gaming experience and instead delivered us a rough prototype.

Score: 3.5/10
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26 of 35 people (74%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 13, 2012
Perfect example of how NOT to use procedural generation: as the content of the entire game. This is an unfinished program with no vision. Your only purpose is to pilot around from randomly generated level to randomly generated level finding better upgrades so that you can kill the enemies in the way more easily.
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15 of 21 people (71%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 24, 2013
Interesting concept and gameplay but nothing there to make you want to continue playing after an hour.
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20 of 32 people (63%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 22, 2013
The developer's website (http://hcsoftware.sourceforge.net/jason-rohrer/) lists his entire published portfolio. Critics of this game should try some of Jason Rohrer's freeware releases. What British mathematician John Conway did for games as procedural life generators, Jason Rohrer has been doing for games as statements about ethics and the limits of human consciousness. But while Conway's "Game of Life" is a wide-open laboratory, Jason Rohrer uses the medium of pseudorandomness to make syllogistic statements. For example, each step you take in "Passage" brings you a bit closer to the same conclusion: when facing a finite lifespan, the love you make is worth more than the treasure you take. Fairly straightforward conclusion, yet "Passage" is never hamfisted or forced - reasoned argument always trumps hand-waving assertion.

"Inside a Star-filled Sky" forgoes syllogistic logic in favor of inductive reasoning. As you traverse each level, you'll discover that you lack the attack power and/or movement speed to reach the exit. So, you must power up your creature and weaken your enemies. This means diving recursively into a powerup, an enemy, or even yourself. As these recursive levels stack up, you face the identical problem at each local scope: how to weaken the obstacles and strengthen yourself. All with an eye toward unwinding the stack and solving the original problem. And so the game politely asks the player to consider a simple proposition: observed causality in the universe is not a linear function of time but rather an ex post facto selection of one set of points in a multi-dimensional space of possibilities, with each possibility perched on a stack of turtles all the way down. But the game actually makes this statement more elegantly than I ever could.
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10 of 14 people (71%) found this review helpful
2.2 hrs on record
Posted: July 13, 2014
If you enjoy the concept of games as art than this could be for you. I find it to be one of those games I can get lost in for a few 15 minute sessions here and there. There are some points where it's either over the top difficult or because of the power ups you've achieved it's too easy but those moments in between are great fun.
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