There’s a beauty and charm that goes into some games that make them incredibly lovable; a simplistic, yet intricate, approach that makes the connection between the player and the game deeper than others – something that allows the player to become entranced by a game, making them not want to leave the screen until they cannot play any longer. Light, a game created by Just A Pixel that sees you playing as a square trying to obtain information using stealth, can easily be considered one of those games.
You begin not knowing where you are or why you’re there. Very early you discover that you are known as Subject 6c 69 67 68 74 0d 0a, and then must discover exactly where you are and what is going on. To do this, you’ll sneak through each level and do what is asked: hack into computers, steal files, escape the area – which leads to more information on this baffling case.
In a game that is similar to the highly-rated Monaco and the extremely beloved Hotline Miami, you will have to be careful about which routes you take and what you do – one shot from an enemy and you must restart – which isn’t actually as frustrating as it was in Dennaton’s game. You can disguise yourself as the enemy guards or workers, which won’t completely prevent you from being spotted but will help you out as long as you don’t overstay your welcome. You can also kill the enemy guards – and workers, for that matter – but doing so will start a timer countdown for reinforcements to arrive. It really does give you a reason to be as secretive as possible and to only resort to killing anyone when absolutely necessary.
The art is so simple, yet so elegant that it looks absolutely stunning. Straightforward but effective use of colours make it easy to understand what is interactive, whether a square character is either an enemy or a worker, or anything else. Once detected by an enemy its cone of sight will turn red as it becomes alert. Another brilliant element to Light is the soundtrack. It is extremely mellow considering what the game requires you to do, but it works spectacularly well.
Tying in with Light’s retro, arcade-y vibe, the soundtrack is as colourful as the screen – but while you would expect a bit of intensity in it, it goes the opposite direction. It is a soundtrack that, in a strange way, relaxes you and allows you to be more clear-minded when navigating through a difficult level, making you less likely to make a mistake. Maybe that’s the reason you don’t feel as aggressive as you would playing Angry Birds or Super Hexagon, having to restart time and time again.
Hacking, while very important to this game, comes off as lacklustre in terms of delivery. Holding down a key at a computer is all that’s required to hack it, but when it’s done you have to press the ‘Q’ key to bring up a menu of what to hack and click each one. It doesn’t sound like a massive problem but it would be a lot easier if you were to hack into the computer and have the menu come up then, with the option if accessing it later, as sometimes you might forget that you have hacked the computer with the intense surroundings and sometimes frantic pace.
The game itself is extremely fun to play – it will have you thinking strongly, mapping out the best route to take. You will be on your toes improvising when necessary if something goes wrong and, most importantly, it will drag you in. With it’s minimalist, top-down approach to the stealth genre, Light manages to stay simple and likable. It remains basic throughout: obtain what you must and get out before you are seen. It feels like a 2D Hitman with a bird’s eye view (especially having the ability to drag and hide your enemy’s body in a box) and, let’s be honest, that sounds wonderful.
VERDICT: Simply put, Light is just a joy to play and experience. So full of charm, each level you complete offers a greater and greater reward. It becomes harder, challenging the mind and pushing you that much further, all while not completely breaking you mentally. It is the perfect length, too: long enough to get the most out of the game and never once becoming dull. The developers have managed to create a fine balance between the length and the difficulty, and they have produced a compelling game that everyone should experience at least once.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.
Review code provided by publisher.