By Michael B.
Night Lights is a game where you control a blocky character who walks through a dark world at night. His cure for the darkness is altering any lights he can find. Light can actually alter the state of reality – allowing him to sidestep problems that block his path.
It is a platform/puzzle game with the pace of a creeping crawl.
Night Lights – A New, Logical Platformer
It’s a platformer in the same way that those games are and yet it doesn’t look anything like any platformer I’m used to.
I’m getting a real Limbo meets Fez vibe from this game, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Night Lights relies somewhat on memory recall skills. You need to remember where certain things are, for future problems – a la navigating around Fez and remembering where you went before.
You explore a 2d world and encounter clever logic/exploration-based problems you need to solve before you can continue, in a similar vein to Limbo.
One of the cool things about this game is the way it uses both of those elements together. When you meet a problem you can’t solve, you can actually teleport to another area to work on another problem – instead of pausing the game and doing something else, to come back to it later. But you have to remember what it was you were doing before, and where certain things were and how they reacted to the world of the game – in useful or obstructive ways.
Night Lights – Tricks Of The Light
The ultimately coolest thing about this game is the core mechanic – lights; as in Night Lights (the title of the game). Small spoiler: tricks of light can be used to solve problems, the way this element is implemented is actually quite graceful, as are the graphics.
Night Lights stands alone as a cool puzzle/platformer that can entertain for a few hours, however I eventually became a little bored as there is no real motivation to keep going; to keep solving problems. When you succeed at solving a problem, you usually get these little shards of light. Shards of light unlock teleportation booths which allow you access to upper levels with more problems. The ‘problem’ is there is not much satisfaction in solving problems because they aren’t very sophisticated. It feels more embarrassing that it took you so long to solve the problem. And when you get to new levels, you just find more problems. There is no real motivator to provide momentum through this game – for the player to want to continue.
In the beginning the problems are ridiculously simple, and the pace is slow. It’s not like Super Meat Boy where running and jumping, moving and sliding all rely heavily on your hand-eye coordination and muscle memory. At least not in the beginning. It is a slow game which fits nicely with the game’s other elements. All the elements (controls, strategy, mechanics, graphics) are very much synchronised with the shadows and lights of night, dreamy theme of the game.
They somehow manage to make blocky graphics look elegant. It’s like some really emotionally effective pixel art, but it’s not. It’s using illustration-style art, with a theme of simplicity in shape, but complexity of light and movement, to show this brick character moving through this world of mechanical problems and forcing his way through, using tricks of light. He wades through this world, almost effortlessly (the effort is up to you to solve the tricks) and certainly gracefully.
- Clever puzzles
- Graceful integration of puzzles into theme/world
- Easy control system to learn and master
- No real reward for solving puzzles
- No motivation to keep playing beyond “solve the next puzzle”
- Slow pace at times can feel dull