Sometimes, it doesn't take much to get someone intrigued in a game. A new title can have a familiar look or style from titles that preceded it, but add a new mechanic or twist, and if it's good, people will want to check it out. Light Fall is a game that does just that. Coming from the very small team at Bishop Games, it looks and plays like familiar titles from the past, but it becomes more interesting with the addition of a new gameplay mechanic.
The preview build is armed with some background story. The land of Numbra is a dark and unforgiving place where the weak perish and the strong survive. It is a wonder, then, that new people have come to this land and are wont to call it home. We get to meet one of these people, a boy who wanders the world and has discovered that dangerous crystals are sprouting in it. He wonders what's going on and sets out on a mission to find out.
There are two things that players will immediately notice about Light Fall. The first is that the game is seemingly narrated all the time by an owl named Stryx. Wise but sarcastic, he adds a nice little spin on things by simply being snarky at all times. It seems as if he prefers gruffness to kindness, but he's simply grouchy and it comes off in humorous ways. So far, he isn't as reactive as other narrators in titles like Bastion, so he won't care much if you die, but the attitude certainly gives the game some character.
The other thing people will notice is the graphics. Similar to other titles like Limbo and Nihilumbra, the world is completely dark, and your character is nothing but a black silhouette with white eyes. There are other colors present, but their contrasts with the main character make the art style stand out more.
Compared to those titles, though, your character is much nimbler. His walk is fast, but he can take off at full speed if moving in conjunction with a trigger pull or button press. His jumps are higher and farther than most side-scrolling platform protagonists, and he can also do wall jumps with relative ease. That flexibility makes for some pretty exciting gap jumps, wall ascents and outrunning traps, which are standards of the genre.
A new and intriguing mechanic that's introduced is the Shadow Core. It's a box that you discover halfway through the first level, and it has two abilities. The first is that you can use it as an impromptu platform via the double-tap of a button. The box not only appears under your feet but is also adaptive; if you spawn it underneath but are still moving, it'll move with you, so you don't get an unintentional death. The second ability is movement. You can relinquish control of the Shadow Core and use it to unlock gates where the switch can't normally be reached. You can also use it as a blocker for traps, though enemies can still get through it with ease. You'll need to keep it in mind since you have no attack abilities of your own.
Having said all of that, there's a feeling that what was on display here might only be a small sample of what the Shadow Core is capable of. After two stages of introduction to the lore and game mechanics, the preview build ends just as the player is coming to grips with what the Shadow Core can do. While we like what we've seen so far, there isn't anything to give us an idea of whether we'll see more of the same or if we'll get some brain-teasing conundrums to work through.
Despite the build's very short length, Light Fall remains a curious title. It may look like a few other moody platformers, but the Shadow Core alone has the potential to introduce some interesting puzzle platforming opportunities, and we'll certainly be looking out for this one as the year progresses.
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