One Upon Light Review
Video games have always been a learning experience for me. They have taught me a lesson in some form ever since I first grabbed a controller and died by running into the first goomba in Super Mario. Whether it was to always be vigilant so I don’t run face first into an enemy to the fact that I really do have a temper when I literally bit through the controller after being enraged with Earthworm Jim, games usually teach me and aren’t just enjoyment. I first became good with math thanks to the damage system in RPGs and perfected my timing through fighting games, learned reflexes through driving at high speeds and shooting whatever pops up on my screen.
Puzzle games taught me to plan ahead. Nothing sucks more than getting a line in Tetris and having no place to put it or making a wrong turn and being trapped by the very blocks you were pushing around. So when I was first asked to play ‘One Upon Light’ I came into it with certain expectations. I had heard a bit about the game, really just a maze-type puzzle game where the goal in each level is as simple as getting from point A to point B while avoiding the light.
The story follows a scientist who was at a facility called Rosewater, after an experimented on light that seems to have gone wrong (probably by a different I guess ‘evil’ scientist, the cinematic makes it seem someone just ignored safety precautions) it resulted in you no longer being able to be exposed to light. This leads to what I consider to be the most annoying factor in the game; slow death. It’s not exactly like poison or anything, but more like everything slows down and you just burn to death. It gives you a slight leeway, allowing you to “run” (I use the term loosely since you walk like a cripple…) past some thin beams of light. This death can be time consuming and frustrating when it comes to having to deal with a lot of trial & error in later levels. It can also make you cry when you are 90% through a certain puzzle and die having to start over the whole section. The whole game is in black and white (plus greys of course) which lets you see the beams of light quite clearly, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
The levels in the game are relatively straightforward, you see the clear exit (a scrap of paper with some info on what occurred on it) and know where to go, not easy to get lost just occasionally stuck. The game lacks any kind of music as you go through the levels, I think even elevator music might have helped but I guess the silence helps with the puzzle focus. Also it’d be nice if they included other items to help you along the way. I mean, you’d figure a scientist in a lab would be able to make some makeshift device to protect himself with right?
In the beginning the puzzles are simple as you would expect, and you have your character fellow walk around and past stationary lights. It then gets harder when you have the lights start to move, and the difficulty increases very quickly when you have to deal with supplemental traps being thrown in. As you progress you have to get used to using different mechanics such as moving boxes to block light and levers/triggers for doors and so on to help you navigate through the labyrinths. I find the lack of run and the timing where the game needs the most improvement on. I can understand if my mistakes lead me to death, but the timing needed and the stage design do tend to make things clumsy rather than difficult.
I personally had more fun with the game about halfway through it when you acquire the “shadow echo” item. This allows you to hold a shadow in place opening up extra ways to solve puzzles and increasing the difficulty up a notch too.
My frustrations aside the game is easy to pick up but harder to get the full hang of. I just wish I had it on my cellphone rather than my PS4. The game seems to have 20 levels which is worth a couple hours of ‘fun’ and each level has unique puzzles which means it isn’t just rehashing the same old gimmick. It is an interesting experience and I’m glad I played it, though all I learned is that messing with light and photons makes you like a lame vampire…
I give it a 3 out of 5~