TechRaptor first had the chance to play Bishop Games' game Light Fall at PAX South 2018. Alex was so impressed by it that it even made it onto his top ten best games at PAX South list. This is when Light Fall first caught my eye. A simplistic looking puzzle platformer with the ability to create your own platform. It's a mechanic we've seen before, in Mega Man with the items or Plague of Shadows with his vats, but it's never been the core mechanic until now.
Releasing on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and Nintendo Switch sometime in March with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to follow, I spoke to Ben Archer of Bishop Games about Light Fall and what makes their platformer unique.
TechRaptor: First off introduce yourselves and your game Light Fall.
Ben Archer: My name is Ben Archer and I am one of the three co-founders of Bishop Games, creators of Light Fall. I work on the project as the level designer, writer for the story and PR/marketing guy for the studio. The best way to describe Light Fall is the following: we thought why not make a platformer where you, the player, control your own platforms and create your own level design inside the levels.
TR: Light Fall is categorized as a challenging platformer. What inspired you to create a difficult game? Where on the scale of difficult games does Light Fall land?
BA: I’d say Light Fall is a fairly challenging platformer, but also fair to the player. We rarely throw curve balls to the players or ‘’cheap shots’’ where people will die without a chance to fight back/react. I’d rate the game a 6 or 7 on the difficulty scale. Most players will be able to experience the Story Mode as a fair challenge. The real difficulty, and we know this isn’t for everybody, is the Hard Mode in both Speedrun or Story Mode. In Hard Mode, every level is much harder and there’s only the initial checkpoint at the beginning of the level. As to what inspired us, we just enjoy a good challenge you know? We are also big fans of Super Meat Boy, so we try to emulate the difficulty/fast-paced aspects of that game.
TR: What makes Light Fall's gameplay unique? What mechanics make platforming different from any other game out there?
BA: The biggest thing that makes Light Fall unique is that you can spawn your own platforms and create your own path in the levels. This mechanic replaces the double-jump function that is very popular in platforming games. Basically, you jump, then press jump again, and a platform will spawn under your feet, allowing you to land and jump again. You can rinse-and-repeat this four times before running out of charges and having to land on solid ground to recharge your platforms. As you progress through the adventure, you learn more ways to use this platform mechanic to solve the puzzles and challenges ahead; shield, scouting tool, spinning attack, etc…
TR: What was the most challenging aspect you faced when designing the levels for Light Fall?
BA: The most challenging aspect of designing the levels was to make it interesting and challenging enough. With the possibility of spawning your own platforms, you can travel very fast and far throughout the levels. We wanted to give ultimate freedom to the player, but also make the adventure challenging. We also had to design the levels on both axis. Usually, most platformers only care about the horizontal axis of the level. That is because the players can only jump one or twice in most games. In Light Fall, the player can reach a lot of spots that would be impossible in other games. As such, we also had to design the levels on a vertical axis, which took more time and thoughts behind it.
TR: You've gone for a pretty simplistic art style. What inspired this? Were there any other games which you took inspiration from?
BA: The art style used is called the silhouette style, which mainly plays on the color black. The reason behind that was because it fit our theme of a world plunged into darkness. The other reason was that we only had one artist at the time. It was much more efficient to have this type of art style for the size of our team. As for the games that inspired us; the obvious choices are Limbo and Ori and the Blind Forest (albeit we both started development around the same time).
TR: You mentioned a speed run mode. Was accessibility to speedrunners something which you focused on when designing Light Fall?
BA: The Speedrun Mode came naturally. The idea actually came from our fans, at PAX East, 2 years ago. We had two TVs next to each other at our booth and we had a timer in the demo that recorded the average completion time. It was mostly a tool for us to see how long people took to complete the demo. What we realized was that friends would play next to each other, start the demo at the same time and race against each other using the timer. We had a crew then try to race against us, the devs, and it lasted a good part of the afternoon. When we came back, we knew we had something cool on our hands. That is when we decided to push forward this particular game mode.
TR: I hear you are planning to release for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. What challenges did you face developing for so many different consoles concurrently?
BA: Actually, our initial plan was to do a launch across all the platforms but it changed a bit. That is mostly due to the small scale of our team and the lengthy process of doing console certifications. Right now, we plan to release on PC and Mac for Steam and on the Nintendo Switch for March. Playstation 4 and Xbox One builds will follow 3 months after that.
We would like to thank Ben Archer for their time speaking with us.