Aether, the latest from Armor Games, a collaboration between Edmund McMillen (Gish, Triachnid, Coil) and Tyler Glaiel (Magnetism, Paths), is a gloriously imaginative puzzle game where you swing through the stars to reach the planets.
You start on Earth, with the visit of a creature that takes you on a strange odyssey. Using the [ASWD] keys for direction, you click on the left mouse button to launch the tongue of the creature up into the clouds. Swing from cloud to cloud to go higher up until you reach space, then swing from star to star to launch yourself toward one of four other planets and solve a puzzle for each one. Once you're above the clouds and you have enough speed, you can also just hurtle through space without being attached to any stars. There are different colored navigation indicators pointing you towards each planet that look like butterflies.
Two-key combinations can also help you gain momentum, for instance pressing up and left at the same time can help you can gain enough swing to go completely around in a circle.
Each planet's puzzle has a different type of solution. When you successfully solve each one you see a flash of light. After you complete all four puzzles, head back to blue earth to complete the game.
Analysis: Surely influenced by The Little Prince, the game seems to take place within the imagination of a child. On each planet you encounter creatures with some kind of complaint or anxiety, each trouble is symbolically released through creative puzzles.
A few things about the game were a bit wonky. On some of the planets, solving the puzzle didn't solve the creatures' problems, which was confusing. The somewhat clumsy physics of the tongue while swinging makes it difficult at times to build momentum. Combined with the gravity of a planet or moon, this makes it awkward to leave a planet, so starting off is the hardest part to get used to. It was also difficult to tell where the planets were as you were approaching because the navigation indicator would disappear.
But those are small quibbles in an otherwise amazing game. The designers have made a truly compelling experience with excellent atmosphere. It's a fantastic artistic endeavor with delightful physics-based game play and creative puzzles. You can also just spend some time flying through space or the clouds, the music and movement are so relaxing. Play Aether!