Have you ever noticed how quickly the world changes when the lights are turned off? While everything is illuminated, there is a sense of safety and warmth. Yet, when darkness strikes, even the most familiar of locations can appear alien. So, what’s the solution? You must switch on the lights to illuminate the gloomy environment, that’s what! This is the core idea behind Night Lights, a funky light manipulation experience.
Developed by Meridian4 and published by Ratalaika Games, this is a puzzle platform title. Comprising forty-five levels in an array of locations, Night Lights becomes increasingly more complex and convoluted.
Night Lights is a fresh look on a well-trodden mechanic.
Light manipulation and puzzle titles go together like Ant and Dec, peanut butter and jam (jelly for our American friends), and Christmas and Santa. Heck, I’ve recently covered Tandem: A Tale of Shadows, which incorporates this idea brilliantly. So, with so many games using this element, you have to do well to stand out. Fortunately, Night Lights does just that. Its striking style, drip-fed mechanics, and interesting stage design all work in harmony. Furthermore, its simple approach won’t overwhelm you. Though, a pinch of Metroidvania gaming adds a little spice that increases the challenge further.
The story, or what little there is of it, revolves around a tiny robot. He finds himself on a darkened planet that is ominous and overbearing. He begins life with limited skills, and this restricts his ability to explore. As the game evolves, the robot learns new abilities and previously out of reach locations can be visited.
Where Night Lights excels is its lack of complexity. I adored the freedom to explore each of the four zones and the introduction of new mechanics. You will learn the ability to jump higher, dash, sprint, and will gain a head bulb. These new skills were fascinating and you’ll love uncovering hidden areas on the map. This creates an engrossing exploration adventure experience, and this is where the Metroidvania elements sneak into play. It was easy to become lost as you attempted to find collectables or new routes, and some may find this frustrating. I, though, enjoyed how this added to the longevity while demanding you stay focused.
Your newly acquired skills need energy to work, and this is where the collectables are essential. Dotted around the map, you’ll find lightning bolts to gather. These tricky treasures are always just out of reach! Ironically, the skills that need them must be used to collect them. Alongside this, you must find a limited supply of crystals! They are the key to progress and power multiple tools and portals en route. Without these, you have no chance of completing the game, so keep your eyes peeled.
Night Lights is beautiful to look at.
This 2D side-scrolling title is absolutely beautiful to look at. Set with a mainly monochromatic palette, I was amazed by its haunting style. The bleakness is punctuated by moments of colour and warmth from any light sources. This was a classy touch that complimented the striking black on white. With four worlds to explore, the developers did a great job of creating variety in a minimalist setting. Moreover, I never tired of what I saw, and this was aided by the buttery-smooth gameplay.
Meridian4 tried to enhance the eerie atmosphere with a monotonous choral soundtrack. Sadly, it didn’t work as well as they hoped. I could see what they were trying to achieve, but the end result was repetitive and annoying. Furthermore, there is a bug with the audio settings that mutes the sound as you start the game. You’ll manually alter it to your liking, or play in silence. Either way, it’s a frustrating issue that needs to be addressed.
Familiar platform controls.
If you are a veteran of the genre or even played just a few games, you’ll be familiar with the controls. The well laid out setup and in-depth tutorial make this a pleasure to play. Yes, it can be fiddly and precision is key, but any shortcomings are user-related. Many games require finesse and practice to progress, and Night Lights is no different.
Thanks to its many levels, unlockable skills, and collectables, there is plenty to keep you playing. Furthermore, the Metroidvania style exploration adds mystery to this stunningly simple title. Sadly, though, the achievement list is tiny and doesn’t add to the longevity. Subsequently, the replay value is found in the gradual learning curve and the expansion of each area.
Night Lights reignites the genre.
When a game uses well-trodden mechanics, it’s easy for it to become bland. However, Night Lights twists familiar elements and reignites the genre. I adored the simplicity of the gameplay, the mystery behind the exploration, and the striking aesthetics. If you love puzzles and platforming, then this is the game for you. I enjoyed it and I recommend you to buy it here! Can you add light to this gloomy planet? Explore, unlock new abilities, and find every collectable.