Light Fall Review: Eclipse
Kalvin Martinez / May 9th, 2018 No Comments
Light Fall is a game we originally played at PAX South in 2015. When we tried it out, we were into its gameplay and aesthetic.
A little over three years later, we finally got to play the retail release of Light Fall. Did it hold up to our lofty impressions or was what was charming about the game back then only able to sustain a vertical slice?
Numbra is a harsh land of eternal night, isolated and forgotten from the rest of the world, where only the strongest can survive. Yet, it is where the Kamloops, a tiny nation tired of endless war, decided to migrate. The Kamloops brought with them their hope for a better life, and their gods. For a while, they lived in peace in the perpetual darkness of Numbra — until one day when a grave threat emerged to threaten both the Kamloops and all of Numbra.
When the threat emerges, so does a mysterious child and his curious box. The child catches the attention of Stryx, the Last Night Owl. The owl becomes fascinated with the actions of the boy.
As the child travels around Numbra, he witnesses a stark change in the landscape. The already dangerous land has become even more so. All of the new dangers land the boy into some serious trouble, causing Stryx to interfere, linking the two in a journey that will take them to the heart of Numbra to try to save it.
What makes Light Fall unique in terms of its narrative is how reactive it is. Stryx acts as the narrator for the adventure, remarking on the actions of the boy while recounting and expanding on the history of Numbra, the Kamloops and its culture. Stryx’s sardonic commentary and testy relationship with the boy gives the story weight. Finding out more about the lore is a treat.
This active narration by Stryx makes the whole game extremely story driven, which is a cool take for a platformer. It turns what can be such an insubstantial experience into something more meaningful and memorable.
Thinking with a Box
Light Fall doesn’t reinvent the platforming genre even though it does fascinating things in terms of narrative driving the gameplay. What it does well is present a series of ever increasing challenges. If you want to discover the fate of the Kamloops and Numbra, you must be willing to overcome some brutally hard levels.
Much like Super Meat Boy, a modern platformer many developers have taken inspiration from, Light Fall eases you into its mechanics and intricacies. Think of it as a gentle incline that only becomes steeper as you learn to master the boy’s box. However, the last levels of the game require pitch perfect timing, making them true tests of resolve and patience.
What separates Light Fall from other platformers is a unique gimmick: the boy’s ability to manifest a box seemingly out of ether to use as an additional platform or triple jump. The box plays a huge part in puzzle solving as you sometimes need to position it to rotate platforms, use it as a shield, or explode it in a burst to destroy crystals. It is versatile and necessary.
Whether using it as a platform, shield or weapon, the boy can only make use of the box four times, but you can reset the counter by touching a solid platform. This means you can game the system by resetting the counter to create unique opportunities or reach heights seemingly impossible to ascend. It makes for a fresh experience that tasks players to think about platforming in creative ways.
Often, there are multiple ways to succeed, which means players could reach the same outcome using completely different methods.
The mountain is hard to climb, but luckily your box makes the climb more manageable. Sections of Light Fall can be extremely tough, resulting in some trial and error. Failure can often be attributed to forgetting to plan ahead and keeping your box summons in mind. Luckily, Light Fall has a good checkpoint system that allows you to try again fairly easily; however, in the latter parts of the game, perfection is seemingly expected. The mountain gets steep enough at times that it feels like a wall.
The final boss fight is an exceptionally difficult, exhilarating battle. It is a long fight with a lot of different patterns to master, but those patterns have their own variations and change with every new attempt. Even if you think you have it down, you can get thrown a curveball in a new attempt, which makes it a great way to end the game and test the limits of your skills. Hell, if you want, you can tackle the game on a harder difficulty that amps up every challenge.
The platforming genre is one built upon the ease to pick up and play and the difficulty to master. Modern platformers have doubled down on steep difficulty and perfect precision. Light Fall is the latest of those modern platformers.
The game provides some interesting takes on the platformer genre by flashing cool mechanics, but its challenge and necessity of timing is perhaps its most lasting impression.
Light Fall was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.
tags: Bishop Games , Light Fall , Light Fall Game , Light Fall review , review