Developer: Void Dimensions
Publisher: Oasis Games
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £9.99 ($14.99)
Controllers: Two Move Controllers Required
Game Length: 6 hours
A gorgeous puzzler-platformer that lures you in with crisp, clean graphics and easy-to-pick-up controls – but may well see you weeping with frustration before long.
As you begin Light Tracer you are immediately absorbed by an immersive world and accosted by a lost and bewildered Princess. As adorable as she is persuasive, you soon find yourself agreeing to aid in her quest to climb a hazardous, physics-defying and seemingly never-ending tower. By agree, I mean silently succumb to her demands as you lead her to her death more times you’ll be able to count. As you ascend you’ll overcome numerous obstacles, thwart many foes and best end-of-chapter bosses.
The motion controls are simple and responsive. Your right-hand guides the Princess and your left manipulates the world and certain objects. By holding down the left T-button you can move the environment at will. If there is a pillar or part of the landscape blocking your view – no worries – simply press the trigger and turn the world. It feels cumbersome at first but you’ll master the controls in no time. Pressing x on the left controller will re-centre on the Princess at any time.
One of the most immediate and biggest draws of Light Tracer is its looks. The graphics are colourful, vibrant and crisp. The third-person, floating island idea isn’t wholly unique. Wayward Sky, a PSVR launch title was based on very similar puzzle-platforming mechanics but this doesn’t detract from its beauty, as well as the enjoyment it has to offer – if you’ve huge reserves of patience for puzzle-platformers.
The aforementioned Princess is easy to take to but after you’ve led her off a narrow ledge for the hundredth time in a matter of minutes she may well begin to irritate. Latter parts of the game will take multiple attempts to solve and each time she plunges to her (temporary) doom, she reappears at the last checkpoint exclaiming, “I’m okay!” Sometimes I wish she weren’t.
Her abilities increase as you progress – as does the number of ways you can physically interact with objects scattered around the tower. Further obstacles and tougher puzzles are introduced as you go but they’re implemented at a reasonable pace for the most part. I did find a spike in difficulty at the second chapter boss and then again several chapters later in a section involving ice, portals and a Princess slip-sliding to her unstoppable demise – those who’ve reached that particular puzzle will no doubt be suffering flashbacks right about now.
The levels offer a slender selection of enemies, most of which are easily dispatched once the Princess obtains a sword and attack ability. I found wasps were a particularly irksome foe due to their unnecessarily accurate projectiles. When first introduced they are comfortably avoided but when you incorporate ice and other obstacles they become a superfluous hindrance. The boss battles are a novel and unexpected inclusion but are not always implemented well. It’s never clear how much health a boss has and I was never sure as to whether hits carried over royal fatalities.
The immersion factor here is high. The beautifully rendered tower really is right in front of your eyes, evolving as you ascend your way ever upward. The games eight chapters all possess a unique theme and feel. Beginning with a charming forest you progress through a boulder-ridden desert and then the hazardous ice chapter before eventually coming to the more unique levels.
The sound effects are well suited and the music is of a much high quality than I’d anticipated. The music shifts in style and tone as you scale the tower, but stay in any one area too long and you’ll realise the music loops in obvious ways. This can add to the frustration if you’ve been stuck in on one puzzle for too long.
I had a few, small bugbears with Light Tracer. The most prevalent of these is an issue where the camera automatically readjusts itself after every fatal fall. It’s helpful at first but becomes incredibly frustrating as it moves from a perfect vantage point to a terrible one with no way to stop it. When you’ve thrown the Princess off of a mile-high tower for the umpteenth time you’d quite like the camera to stop defying you at every mistake.
Puzzle-platformers are not my go-to genre, yet I must concede they’re much more engaging when in virtual reality. Rather than shut the game off after being stuck on the same puzzle for mere minutes, VR encourages me to keep going – you feel much more invested.
If puzzle-platforming is your thing then you’ll get plenty of fun for your money here.
VERDICT 7/10 – A GORGEOUS PUZZLE-PLATFORMER THAT MAY BE TOO UNFORGIVING FOR SOME.