Enchanted is easily the first word that comes to mind when I think about delving into the exquisite world of Light Fall. Frustration, however, follows suit for the sake of its ruthless gameplay. A challenge is stimulating, but only if you can continue to at least somewhat enjoy the ride. Struggling to conquer the same relentless obstacle over and over again grows tiring. On the contrary, though, crossing the finish line in spite of all the chaos has never tasted so sweet. Light Fall delivers a good mix of gratification and ruthlessness. The inventive environments beautifully crafted by Bishop Games generate a platformer unlike any other that just so happens to be rich with crafty traps—watch your step.
The story of Light Fall follows a spikey-headed boy and his trusty (yet grumpy) owl pal, Stryx. The first couple of acts of Light Fall introduce the crumbling world of Numbra and the logistics behind its deterioration. To correlate such facts, the narration of Stryx reveals pieces of Numbra’s history, developing a tale to harmonize with the boy’s adventure. Totaling at merely five acts that feature five stunning environments, Light Fall isn’t technically a lengthy game. However, the stages embodied within each act aren’t a cakewalk by any means.
Like many platformer escapades, the perplexities multiply as the game progresses. Light Fall happens to offer a Normal and Hard difficulty, altering fragments of stages to regulate or intensify the player’s experience. For example, Hard Mode illustrates additional deadly traps to paint the boy's path and the puzzles aren't as elementary. Nonetheless, Light Fall commences with the belief that anything is possible while gently holding your hand through minor inconveniences. You won’t be babied for long, though. Challenges arise more frequently as the boy continues to wander Numbra.
Cruising along with the assistance of magical boxes materializing under the boy’s feet introduces a clever way to overcome obstacles. A majority of the time, the mystical box is the only boy's hope to get from point A to point B. Reaching a sky-high platform, for instance, typically requires building a makeshift ladder from the boy's boxes. Unfortunately, the act of spawning the enchanted box locks up after it has been generated four times. The boy then either has to make a dramatic leap onto solid ground or fall to the unknown beneath him. Pick your poison.
The challenge of Light Fall stems from one pain in the butt element: timing. In advanced stages, electric orbs simultaneously shrink and enlarge, cutting off access to key areas. Seeing as everything conveniently one-hit kills the boy, precise calculations of his movements are vital. Shooting from wall to wall at a viciously fast pace only works if you’re prepared for what lies ahead. Patience goes hand in hand with timing. As much as you desperately crave to overcome that obstacle you’ve goofed at a zillion times, rushing through it will only tack on an extra humiliating moment for you to mull over later. Banking on luck may suffice in some occasions, but Light Fall is a game of skill and determination more than anything else.
Mastering your pattern of actions helps establish what works and, most importantly, what doesn’t. Light Fall isn’t meant to be conquered in one fell swoop, but rather challenges players through trial and error. Many puzzles have familiar designs; you just have to acquire the attention span to recognize them. Luckily, a handful of stages present alternative routes. You know, just in case that one route is causing total havoc on your precious little soul. In one case, those aggravating electric orbs hindered every ounce of patience I had left to give. Instead of waving the white flag in surrender, I discovered another passage to bypass such atrocities. Whew. Inspecting every nook and cranny proves to be beneficial too, if you know where to look. Some secret areas envelop yellow orbs that the boy can transport back to a checkpoint where historical details pertaining to Numbra are unveiled. Regrettably, the text scrolls so fast that the fun facts are easy to miss if you aren’t a scholar reader. They can’t be revisited at a later time either.
Though Light Fall gives some leeway to players, various hindrances can’t be avoided. A prime example derives from the second to last stage of Act V. Three unforgiving routes embedded with chaos obstruct the boy’s path. Pursuing each route is like trying to swim upstream—success does not come easily, or at all. Gliding into failure is so effortless it hurts. One route, specifically, restricts the boy from utilizing his box. Considering everything one-hit kills the poor soul, voyaging onward evoked a substantial amount of stress. Personally, I invested an embarrassing amount of sweat and tears into that stage, so you can imagine how good it felt when I was finally crowned victorious. Like ... brushing off the shoulders kind of good.
As previously mentioned, Light Fall’s hardships mostly escalate during the last couple of acts. Not only are most puzzles merciless, but specific portions of the stage play a cruel trick and obstruct the boy’s ability to generate his magical boxes. It’s almost like reverting to old-school platformer games. Your abilities resort to jumping around aimlessly and hoping for the best. No longer possessing the talent of spawning platforms beneath the boy’s feet naturally evokes frustration, but practice makes perfect. That’s the word on the street anyway.
If you really ache to put your skills to the ultimate test, Light Fall offers players the leisure of climbing the worldwide scoreboard in Speedrun Game Mode. Braving your way through any previously unlocked stage as fast as the boy can materialize boxes under his little feet can land you an epic spot on the scoreboard and a temporary ego boost. The added competition element will keep your eyes glued to your screen, for every second counts in Speedrun Mode.
Though Light Fall has its flaws, the beautiful escapade takes the platformer genre and sculpts it into an inventive experience. The concept of miraculously producing platforms to modify your route not only demonstrates innovation, but also ties into the boy’s history with Numbra (no spoilers, I promise). Light Fall closely resembles a love-hate relationship. Its splendor and charm is endearing, but the perplexing gameplay doesn’t hesitate to put you in your place when your ego grows two sizes too big. To say the least, Light Fall grasps onto a corner of your heart, nestles in, and makes itself at home. You may be dismayed at times, but you'll always find yourself giving the boy and his owl pal just one more chance.
Light Fall was reviewed on Steam using a copy provided by the developers. It is also available on Nintendo Switch.
Light Fall takes stunning, yet simple, artistic environments and showers them with relentless obstacles, devious traps, and your tears of frustration. The act of mustering through the stages proves to be a rewarding experience every single time. Undoubtedly, Light Fall is an adventure well worth delving into.(Review Policy)
- Stunning Visuals
- Well-Developed Story
- Innovative Gameplay Experience
- (Sometimes) Relentless Obstacles
- Short In Length