Jetstream is a minimalistic roughtly 5 hour long puzzler. You have to steer an airplane to its destination by using or avoiding environment obstacles. There are 100 levels and various Steam achievements to test your skills. Beating each level will require a certain amount of try’n’error as well as clever use of the environment.
The initial look and feel of Jetstream is that of a high quality top down mobile game. This feeling gets reinforced by the fact that all gameplay takes place in the center part of the screen. The game focuses on minimalistic aesthetics by making use of large white areas that allow focus on the actual gameplay.
The aim of each level in Jetstream is to steer a plane from its starting position to its destination. Moving your plane around is done with your keyboard’s arrow keys. You can undo each movement with the Z key and reset the level with the R key. There are 100 levels grouped in 9 different areas. Each area introduces up to two new mechanics that try to prevent you from achieving your goal.
There are a total of 14 mechanics throughout the game. That is on top the two initial limitations: your plane can only fly straight ahead until it reaches an obstacle and your plane cannot cross previously flown paths. The 14 mechanics include things you would expect from a puzzle game, like thunderstorm clouds that you are not allowed to enter. But they also include changing of the pace mechanics like jetstreams that blow your plane straight into one direction or wormholes that transport your plane from one part of the level to the another.
The latter mechanics make some levels confusing. Your plane might enter one jetstream to be thrown into the next jetstream that blows your plane into a wormhole that finally pops the plane out on the other side of the level – all in in less than a second. This is the exception but it happens. And when it happens it breaks the otherwise relaxed pacing of the game.
Difficulty in Jetstream is deceiving. The early levels give the impression of an easy puzzler because they can be solved in under a minute each. But once you reach the third of the 9 areas things get much harder. Mid-game levels took me something around 5 minutes each. And the final area had levels where I spent 30-60 minutes figuring out the perfect path. For me personally some of the complex levels in the final areas were clearly overdone in terms of mechanics and complexity.
What really surprised me was the relaxing soundtrack. Each area has its own signature track that loops while you make your way through the levels. It is a laid back almost lounge sound that fits well with the minimalist aesthetics and brain teaser puzzles.
All in all I enjoyed my time with Jetstream. The looks are minimalistic, the sound is relaxing and there is a large variety of mechanics to keep you busy for about 5 hours. The majority of its 100 levels are great brain food. After an easy start the game settles for an intermediate to hard difficulty. My only gripe with the game are the occasional difficulty spikes. Jetstream gets a solid single thumb up from me.