Light Fall PAX South Preview
Kalvin Martinez / Jan 30th, 2015 No Comments
PAX South wrapped last week. While the event was a smaller affair than its more established cousins, the more intimate setting allowed attendees more opportunity to take risks. When you can take a chance on a game you’ve never heard of, it gives you a wonderful gift of being taken by surprise. Playing Light Fall on the PAX South show floor was one of those rare surprises.
A League of Their Own
Light Fall is the first game from Bishop Games, a small team operating out of Quebec City. Bishop Games is comprised of three passionate creators: David Dion-Paquet, Ben Archer, and Mathieu Robillard. The three men co-founded the studio early last year, and have been working on Light Fall since then. Duties on the game are split between the three men with Ben acting as lead writer, Mathieu working as lead artist and level designer, and David operating as lead programmer and game designer.
When playing the demo of Light Fall, you get a sense of the passion poured into the game. Ben Archer described the game as a blend between Bastion, Super Meat Boy, and Limbo. All of these influences are definitely there. Light Fall also shares a similar feel of Ori and the Blind Forrest and Nihilumbra, and the wondrous quality of Fumito Ueda’s oeuvre. While many of the game’s influence are readily apparent at a glance, it comes into its own once you start playing it.
Kamloops, Dead Gods, and Crystals
The world of Numbra is a dangerous place despite seemingly quiet and serene. It is a harsh land, but a race called the Kamloops was able to make a home deep within Numbra. However, the Kamloops’ peace didn’t last long as insidious crystals invaded Numbra. The protagonist of Light Fall must go find the Kamloops, and traverse the many regions of Numbra as he tries to uncover his mysterious past.
The young boy’s journey is narrated by a knowing owl named Stryx. Narration has a bit of reactive commentary to the events happening in game, as Stryx will sometimes comment on the young boy’s skill when he braves a challenge. Stryx also gives background on the world and environments.
Light Fall’s strong narration, art style, and soundtrack work together to give the game an ethereal atmosphere. Hopefully the full game can sustain the same strong direction as the demo.
A Boy and His Box
In Light Fall you take control of a young boy with a nimbleness and agility that is second to none. You can jump with ease, and scamper up a wall like a lemur. It is good thing too because there is something going on in Numbra.
A mysterious voice guides the young boy compelling him to move forward. As you move through Numbra, you must jump and avoid dangerous obstacles. The initial leg of your journey is more about agileness rather than inherent danger. You need to jump over bottomless pits, scurry up walls, and ride a series of moving wheels. It is all straightforward; a basic check for your platforming prowess.
Eventually, you get to the core of the matter, so to speak. The boy runs into a mysterious box, and touching it gives him the power to wield the shadow core. This is where Light Fall gets really interesting. The shadow core gives the boy the ability to materialize it at will by pressing jump. It is useful in creating a platform across large, dangerous platforming sections, and can be moved and controlled at will to hit triggers.
Sharp and deadly crystals are creeping over Numbra, the boy must avoid them or perish. Some of the crystals can be avoided with good platforming skills and well-timed jumps. However, many sections are much longer requiring a smart use of shadow core placement to clear them. Also, there are several areas where crystals start moving that need sharp reflexes and good shadow core use to avoid an untimely death.
The shadow core can be moved to hit trigger and open a previously blocked path. It is not only used to hit trigger, it also necessary to use the core to block deadly lasers. There is a section in the demo that requires constant movement of the core to block lasers and ensure a safe exit.
The environment is not the only danger in Numbra. There are deadly and strange creatures ready to attack the boy. In the demo, a single enemy type appears, the full game promises more creatures to encounter. It is a weird bird-like creature that swoops down in an arc when the boy gets too close. The first encounter is easy, just avoid the bird and get to a safe spot. The next time, you must avoid crystals with denser enemy placement. It becomes a test of how well you can manage timing.
From the demo, Light Fall looks to use a liberal but strategic series of checkpoints to give the player a break in between different sections. The best part of the demo was the intuitive way it introduced gameplay elements while steadily increasing the difficultly. If the full game can promise to tighten up controls while sustaining the innovative, challenging platforming gameplay, Light Fall is someething to look forward to.
tags: Bishop Games , Light Fall , PAX , PAX South , pc , preview