‘Light Fall’ Review: Devilshly Hard but Satisfying Gameplay

A dark world almost completely absent of light, but a speedy hero with a few tricks up his sleeve brings hope and a bit of illumination. This is the world you are thrust into when you play Light Fall.

Light Fall
A glimmer of hope and light in the darkness. That is the game of Light Fall in a sentence. (Image from Bishop Games)

What Is Light Fall?

Light Fall is a brand new game (released on April 26th 2018) for Nintendo Switch and Steam (PC/Mac). Light Fall was developed by Bishop Games, which was founded in 2014 in Quebec City, Canada and this is their first major release. Light Fall actually started out as a Kickstarter project and was originally scheduled for release in 2016.

Light Fall
Some early concept art for the game (Image from Bishop Games)

Speaking of Kickstarter, the developers had a really cool reward for one of the pledge amounts and that was incorporating a photo of your choice into the game.

Light Fall
One of the Kickstarter backers got a photo of himself added into the game (Image from Bishop Games)
Light Fall
Another of the Kickstarter backers had a photo of their dog integrated into the game (Image from Bishop Games)

But as anyone who follows game development knows…nothing ever goes exactly as planned. The Light Fall team wanted to get the game right so the release was delayed until it was ready. So let’s find out if Bishop Games got it right.

The basic premise of the game is:

Explore the Forgotten World of Numbra to uncover your mysterious past and save the land from an imminent threat. In this land of eternal night, you will rely on your Shadow Core to brave the many challenges and foes standing in your way. Do you have what it takes to survive in perilous Numbra?

How is the Gameplay?

Like many games that are released anymore the player is left to figure out the game mechanics as you go along. There is no need to read a lengthy manual or play through a tutorial first. This approach works well for Light Fall because the game mechanics are quite simple…at first. Light Fall opens with a video introduction voiced by a narrator who you later find out is Stryx the Night Owl.

Light Fall
Good narration can be hard to get right but Light Fall managed to pull it off with Stryx the Night Owl (Image from Bishop Games)

Stryx helps your character as you progress through the game. Sometimes he is just giving you little pieces of information about the land you are discovering and other times he is inserting his own flavor of salty humor or making fun of something you just did (or broke). I really liked both the look and the attitude that Stryx injects into the game. Part of this may be because the voice of Stryx sounds a lot like one of my favorite characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender…King Bumi. King Bumi first appeared in the fifth episode of Book One: Water titled “The King of Omashu” and is very old and crusty but still strong as an ox and spry as ever. The voice actor behind King Bumi was André Sogliuzzo and the Stryx is voiced by Tim Simmons so they are not the same voice actor but I still can’t help but think of Bumi as I play Light Fall and that is a good thing.

I was given an advanced access code to the Nintendo Switch version of the game and I found the controls to be intuitive and easy to learn. Where I think the Nintendo Switch version may hold a slight advantage is by using the ZR button as the speed run. It is so easy and comfortable to initiate and control a burst of speed by using the back right trigger button. If you are playing the game on Steam I highly suggest using a high-quality controller of some kind as speed and dexterity are key. The game starts off slowly and introduces you to the concept of the Shadow Core, which are blocks that you can make quickly appear beneath your feet to help you avoid obstacles or reach new heights. The dynamics of running and jumping are so precise and in my opinion perfectly executed. This is one of those games where the game becomes more enjoyable the harder it gets. Don’t get me wrong, there are still time you will become flustered as you die time after time but the re-spawn time is so fast that you are back in the action in a blink of an eye.

Verdict

Overall I think almost anyone would enjoy playing Light Fall. The visuals are simply gorgeous. The soundtrack of the game is also a winner. It adds to the ambiance of the game as you progress but isn’t so front and center that it becomes old and repetitive (and this is important because there are portions of the game you will need to try over and over and over again). I’m also a big fan of Stryx the Night Owl as the narrator as I mentioned earlier. The narration gives the game a similar feel to Bastion but without quite as much narration. Some of the background look and feel also borrows a bit from the likes of Limbo but Light Fall takes the darkness of Limbo and adds in just a dash of hope and several heaping spoonfuls of beauty to make the soul of the game truly original.

There have been some reviews that have scrutinized the length of the game versus the price ($14.99). While I have yet to beat the game I have already spent more than enough time playing to justify the cost of the game. If you factor in the re-play value of playing through the game in the “speed run mode” I would argue it is more than worth the price of entry. But if you are a hard-core gamer that will beat the game in one sitting you may be disappointed in its length.

I can’t write a review of this game without addressing how difficult the game can be at times. Make no mistake, this is a hard game. I’m more of a casual gamer and this game absolutely pushed my dexterity limits. But after dying time and time again I would take a break and come back and figure out the timing and get through to the next seemingly impossible stage. As I became better at quickly maneuvering the mechanics of jumping and using the Shadow Core I started enjoying the challenge of the game more and more. I have quit playing games that are much easier than Light Fall out of pure frustration but I keep coming back to Light Fall because of the rush of joy you get from screaming through a level with a series of quick jumps and runs. It is simply addicting.

Pros:

  • Extremely responsive and precise controls
  • Stunning artwork
  • Entertaining but not overly done narration
  • Lightning fast speed of the game is addictive and a pure joy

Cons:

  • Relatively short game (this is no Breath Of The Wild)
  • Re-spawn locations are sparse in some levels making it very difficult to progress
  • Some sections of the game are insanely hard (take breaks before getting too frustrated)

Light Fall is available for the Nintendo Switch via the Nintendo eStore  or for the PC or Mac via Steam.

Disclaimer: I was given an advance copy of Light Fall for this review.

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