Developer: Bishop Games
Publisher: Bishop Games
Review Context: I enjoy playing platformers, especially platformers with a good story progression and solid controls. Ori and the Blind Forest is my favorite most recently played platformer that combines both story and game mechanics into a good gaming experience.
Date of Playthrough: May 1, 2018
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy.
Light Fall, developed by Bishop Games, is a game that I started playing with little expectations, minus the visuals. Light Fall is a platformer, but not just any old platformer, as this is a game specifically designed for gamers who have experience playing challenging platform games.
Light Fall is about a young character named Nox, part of the Kamploops, who gets dropped onto the Forgotten World of Numbra unexpectedly. Accompanying Nox is an owl named Stryx, who also serves as the narrator during your the game, The world of Numbra is full of Eternium, the enemy faction, and Nox must find out a way to survive and find out answers about what happened to the world of Numbra. It is during this journey that a story is told full of twists and turns that are sometimes hard to follow. The game is separated by Acts, and between the Acts and sections within the Acts, well designed screenshots are shown on screen with narration to move the story along. Besides the story itself being hard to follow with new characters being thrown on screen that you have no connection with during gameplay, the entire storytelling experience of going between screenshot narrated cinematics back to the gameplay world is just weird, as it feels totally detached from the game and shoehorned in at times.
Bishop Games does succeed in creating a fun character to jump and run around with, as Nox is equipped with something called a “Shadow Core” that allows Nox to spawn platforms under him when jumping. Up to four platforms can be spawned in a row and then Nox has to jump on another surface to recharge. The Shadow Core also serves as an attack that pushes blocks, but strangely isn’t allowed to be used to kill certain critters. My favorite aspect of the Shadow Core is the ability to spawn a platform and move it around with the analog stick, giving Nox the ability to create a single platform farther away that wont count towards the four platform spawn limit. This also allows the ability to solve puzzles by using the Shadow Core to place on objects and have some control. For example, there is a boat where the Shadow Core can be placed on the back that you can control to move the boat forward. Everything about Nox and his abilities involving the Shadow Core are fun to use and explore, but what about the world itself?
The level design in Light Fall has its moments, but you are left scratching your at how quick and swiftly designed certain sequences are compared to other areas that are frustrating beyond belief. There is a sequence in the beginning of the game involving a giant wave that took me a little while to complete. Although there was frustration during this part, the game almost forces you to learn how to properly maneuver the quick and speedy Nox, so for the rest of the game there was a little more appreciation and forgiveness for that annoying wave. Having said that, Light Fall straddles the line between “fun difficult” and head scratching difficulty decisions to remove the fun factor. During the course of the game you will encounter many checkpoints, most of them aren’t far apart, but there are sections like the blue wave and the end of the game where there is a clear lack of consistency in checkpoint placement. There would be no issue with the end of the game decisions to truly inflict punishment on the player with sequences of platforming that involve threading the needle and tight precision jumping if the previous Acts and levels followed that same difficulty pattern of long stretches with no checkpoints. One other major problem with the entire game design is that the camera moves too slow, you could be flying through a level and too fast to see what is ahead of you. This almost always guarantees a death at every major impasse, but luckily you aren’t penalized for dying. Nox also has the basic ability to attach to walls like velcro, but the drawbacks of that design decision are realized near the end of the game. During the journey you can also pick up collectibles in side areas, which get tracked in the level selection screen.
Now would be a good time to talk about the controls, as I felt the controls were generally pretty good, even if the character felt too fast. A controller is pretty much mandatory for enjoyment of this game, but one major issue with the game is the controls can’t be re-bound. This is an issue because a lot of mechanics involve running and that forces me to hold down the RT button and press A on my Xbox controller, when I would have liked to assign it to RB instead. The controls definitely have a learning curve to get comfortable using them quickly, but once learned it has the feeling of learning to riding a really quick bike.
One major feature in Light Fall is the Speed Run option in the main menu. Players can race against ghosts of anyone ranked and also anyone on your friends list. Leaderboard categories are separated between 100% (all collectibles) and any%. After seeing this feature and how the game was designed, it became clear to me that the game was probably specifically designed for speedrunners, and the story came in second. This review isn’t complete unless I acknowledge the wonderful soundtrack.
Light Fall is a relatively short experience that will be extended by curious game design decisions to cause you unnecessary frustration. There are some similarities to Ori and the Blind Forest in regards to how to the stories unfolds and characters, but worlds apart in terms of quality of storytelling. This is a game that is designed for speedrunners, so if you are part of that community then this will be the perfect game for you. Bishop Games created a character in Nox with fun abilities to use, but unfortunately the sandbox they put him in just wasn’t that fun.
Similar Games Liked:
Ori and the Blind Forest (PC)