Gemini - A Journey of Two Stars ($2.99) by Echostone Games LLC is a breathtaking experience with a much deeper meaning about life itself. If you liked other games like Never Alone: Ki Edition and Nanuleu, as they have deeper meanings than what appears on the surface, then chances are that you’ll enjoy what Gemini has to offer as well.
It seems that after Monument Valley hit the market, there’s been an uptick in the number of games that are considered more like works of art, rather than full-on games, and they have hidden meanings when you reach the end. Not to mention that these games are the ones that look beautiful, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before on mobile, and they’re rather immersive. Gemini is another one of those games, so if you’re looking for a full-on challenging game, then you’ll want to stop reading now. But if you’re up for experiencing a game that is more about the journey rather than the destination, and enjoy life lessons represented in an abstract way, then Gemini will be right up your alley.
In terms of visuals, Gemini is one of the most gorgeous games I’ve played as of late. In Gemini, you’ll discover a stunning universe that is rendered with incredible detail, and then it pans out to reveal exquisite architecture, mystical bouts of natural spaces, dreamy skies, and other fantastic dreamscapes. The two stars (one of which you control) move fluidly and the particle effects of their trails and lighting up other stars is just a sight to behold. Colors in the game range, depending on what environment you’re in. They’ll be bright and vibrant to soft pastels to dark and machine-like tones. Animations are buttery smooth, and the ambient, atmospheric soundtrack is a delight to listen to, since it is immersive and reacts to your actions.
Since the graphics in Gemini are downright stunning, the chances are high that you will want to save a moment as an image to your device, without any obstructions like buttons. If you pause the game with the button in the top right corner and then tap on the camera button, you’ll get the option to save directly to your device or share it through the Share Sheet. I wish you could at least pan it around to get the “perfect” shot, but I suppose that could lead to spoilers for the area too.
There are two modes in Gemini: Single and Two-Player, though the latter is locked until you beat Single first. The campaign features several different areas for you to journey through, and there is no level select screen. However, once you start the journey and then return to the main menu, the game does save your progress so you can just pick up in the environment where you last left off. In order to get to the new domains, you’ll have to clear the previous one first, as everything flows seamlessly into each other. The goal is to join with the other star, which happens to be one of the few remaining, and light up the other stars and objects as you fly towards heaven. Be warned, though — while I have not finished the single player yet, I am reading in the iTunes reviews that the game is overall pretty short if you rush through it.
Controls in Gemini are simple and intuitive. You take control of one of the stars (the bigger one), and move it left and right by tapping on the buttons in the bottom corners. However, you’ll realize that you can’t really get anywhere just by yourself, as the other stars and objects will be high above, as well as heaven itself. This is where the other smaller star comes into play. You’ll have to move in tandem with the other star, which will elevate you to new heights. You’ll have to follow along with the smaller star, moving and surfing in tandem with each other, and share the joy of overcoming obstacles together.
I’ll be honest: at first I did not understand what was happening. The game does not give you a clear guide on what to do, and you just feel a bit lost when you start the game. But that’s just like life — you don’t get a manual on how to live life. As I noticed the smaller star giving me boosts as I was near, it made me think of the people in my life who have always been there for me, helping elevate me when I am feeling down, and getting me to reach new heights. Reaching the next area with my support star is like when I reach a new chapter in my life because of the encouragement from others. And when you stray from your support, you’ll fall, but they’ll just come right back for you to help you out again. I did notice that the support star did some rather annoying and stupid things, like constantly go up to the dark clouds in the sky in the second area only to be blocked with thunder and lightning. But they can’t all be perfect, right?
I haven’t completed the Single Player mode yet, but I’m taking my time with the game. Gemini is about the journey to the destination, much like life, so I’m not in a big rush to complete it just yet. However, the Two-Player mode is interesting, as you and a friend each control a star, so you’ll see the analogy to life come into effect even more.
After getting over my initial confusion with the game, I’m enjoying the experience overall. It’s one of the most ravishing games so far this week, the music and sounds are wonderful, and the controls are easy enough for everyone. I love the metaphor to life that the game represents, but I know that this won’t be for everyone, so there could at least be a little bit of guidance in the very beginning. I also wish that the small star didn’t do as many annoying things when you’re trying to solve puzzles, but alas, that’s life I suppose. Hopefully more content is added in the future as well, because it would be amazing to see what other dreamscapes the developer team can come up with, and it would add to the longevity.
If you’re into the games-as-art movement, then I recommend checking out Gemini. But if you aren’t, and prefer a more straightforward challenge, then this game is not for you.
Gemini – A Journey of Two Stars is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for just $2.99. There are no in-app purchases.