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Jul 14, 2014

Light Review

Lights Off
3 Okay
Retails for: $14.99
We Recommend: $8.99
  • Developer: Just A Pixel Ltd.
  • Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd.
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, Strategy
  • Released: Jul 14, 2014
  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Reviewed: Windows

Outside of being an SEO nightmare, Light is a top-down stealth action game for the PC. Filled with mystery, is the story of a man the subject of a super secret project, that has left him an amnesiac. So begins the journey to discover the truth and unravel the corporate conspiracy that surrounds it.

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You play as the one simply known as “6c”. You only know as much as your character does, which gives the amnesia angle some weight. But something isn’t right, and it’s up to you to discover what is actually going on. Playing the game is like seeing what would happen if Hotline Miami and Watch Dogs had a lovechild. The result is a bloodless hackfest where infiltration and stealth are key, from a top-down perspective. The first half of the game flies by without any sort of challenge, but then the difficulty dramatically increases and demands more of you.

Controlling your four-sided hero is done with W, S, A, and D. Key presses unlock doors, hack terminals, carry bodies, or switch disguises. The game itself is pretty simple, usually only requiring you to hack something, or steal a set amount of items. How you go about that is up to you. Generally you’ll want to stealth around a level, but guards can be killed and stashed into cabinets to avoid detection. Security cameras placed around a level can be deactivated with a mouse click once the appropriate terminal has been compromised. When hacking, it is unknown what you’ll disable or have access to until you click on it, so there’s no real reason not to click on it anyway.

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Light‘s simplicity is driven home not only in gameplay, but the visuals as well. Taking cues from Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon using scan-lines, color separation with the simple shapes, the bright colors and vision cones of Monaco, makes Light feel like you’re playing the game on a fullscreen version of the minimap. The simple shapes that occupy the game are colored squares. Your character is blue, enemies bathed in red, and civilians are in white. In special circumstances, a person of interest is in purple, and you can be red if you wear the clothing of a guard. Like in Hitman, guards can be killed and their clothes can be worn as a disguise that reduces the cone of vision for enemies to see and detect you.

Should you be seen by a camera too long, reinforcements will be called in. This gives you two minutes to complete all objectives before a large swarm of enemies occupies the space. Once seen by a guard, you can run and hide, but if they get a good angle on you, one shot and you’re dead. But having either of these things happen to you, will lose a large chunk of your total score.

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There’s incentive to replay levels for higher scores, but there are no leaderboards that theses scores are submitted to. So something as simple as comparing them against friends, let alone the world is curiously missing and hollow. Light also lacks any extraneous modes or level editor, just the levels that came with it.

While not flawless, the game is highly enjoyable and engaging. Small issues like the AI being on predictable roaming patterns can make memorizing a route the easiest way to score big. You’ll also need to make sure that any text you read must be read, as you cannot go back to re-read. It’s entirely possible you’ll accidentally bypass vital story info that can only be retrieved by restarting a level.

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Light is short on content, but makes sure not to waste your time during the one or two hours it takes to complete the twelve levels. The AI is predictable, and the objectives repetitive, but is a visual splendor and intriguing tale of reclaiming freedom and bringing down a large corporation to right the wrongs while sneaking and hacking through levels is satisfying. It’s a small victory, but Light could be enhanced by Steam Workshop, via user-created levels to expand the universe that’s been created here.

A pre-release Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes