Friday, 29 June 2018 09:00

Light Fall Review

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Bishop Games’ Light Fall is a visual treat that will have you roaring in anger far more frequently than in triumph. Its mesmerizing art provides a stunning backdrop for what is, at the end of the day, a relatively standard platformer with a few strong cards in its hand, but not many. Your shadowy character will leap to his death more often than not, but the journey he takes to get there is what may make or break the experience for players from all across the platforming spectrum.

Enter the World of Numbra

Light Fall lets you loose in a 2D, side-scrolling world encumbered by dangerous crystals and a story with as little outline as your main character. You’re haunted by the equally spectral figure Stryx, a towering owl that narrates in a creaky and almost corny elderly man’s voice. He guides you verbally and occasionally visually as you careen through Numbra, the land you find yourself in, sans memories.

The story does develop over time, but to discuss these developments would require offering spoilers, and there’s no need to do so with a platforming-centric indie such as this. Suffice to say, the plotline is simply not going to be what motivates your escapades in Light Fall’s world. And if the art doesn’t do it? The platforming will.

Platforming at the Speed of … Light

The art hooks you, the story confuses you, and then the platforming sweeps you off your feet and hurtles you into the distance without a chance to look back. Light Fall’s platforming is staggeringly fast, and utilizes a platform-creation mechanic that cranks your speed up a notch further. Your character is able to create a block on the fly up to four times before having to set foot on solid ground, after which you can then use your block four more times, and so on.

You also use your block to solve miniature puzzles, or to control things like a ship that carries you across shockingly unforgiving and cruel waters. However, the vast majority of your time will be spent throttling as hard as you can and leaping deliciously from block to block to block – until you come tumbling down after forgetting to reset, and not having a fifth to rely on.

The Waiting Game

The self-made platforms are at once Light Fall’s most interesting asset and its most disheartening weakness. The fluidity of movement the blocks offer is most often interrupted by timing platforming that will have you flying into the face of a swordfish or a wall of spikes before you can say… an expletive. Most of the levels will require a great deal of trial and error before you memorize all of the different movements, and before you memorize where you will need to place your blocks to successfully avert an ugly end. Or, the reverse will happen, and you’ll fly through have a level without ever really engaging with the obstacles below.

Because launching yourself from block to block feels so good, it’s frustrating to be constantly… blocked… by platforming challenges that feel more suited to a slower method of movement. Playing the waiting game when you know exactly how fast you can go is aggravating, to say the least. However, flying through a level at Superman speeds with zero performance errors is a goal that’s par for the course for platforming titles, and Light Fall is no different. When you do master a level, it’s breathtakingly satisfying, and the whole time you’ll have been holding your breath and sweating profusely.

Lovely Stylization for Empty Platforming

Unfortunate and unexpected hikes in difficulty furthermore do little to motivate you to continue to traverse Light Fall’s exquisitely stylized lands. Sometimes you may find that your quick-save points are overly generous, while at other times you’ll be cursing your luck that there aren’t any at all. The story is visually enjoyable to behold, but under its attractive surface it’s undeniably half-baked.

Light Fall distinguishes itself with an unusual and brilliant art style paired with excellent sound design and endearing, if questionable, voice acting. Fans of complex and spellbinding storytelling will be disappointed, but Light Fall weaves enough magic around itself to make it a lovely platformer for any rainy day.


The Verdict: Good

Lavishly stylized and wickedly fun to run, Light Fall is a unique platforming indie that makes your heart race and your palms sweat. Its handful of excellent ideas and fine-tuned controls cause it to rise above its crowded segment, but its baffling storytelling and uninspired levels more often than not keep it from soaring.

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Taryn Ziegler

Taryn is a digital content strategist with an avid appetite for literature and gaming. She graduated from the University of Washington Bothell with a degree in Culture, Literature, and the Arts, and since then has been engaged in copywriting for businesses from AutoNation to DirtFish Rally School. While she'll happily play most games set in front of her, Taryn heartily prefers a good ol' turn-based strategy RPG, such as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and Divinity: Original Sin.


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