Light Fall Review: A Unique Platformer That Suffers From a Few Glaring Mishaps
Light Fall is an innovative 2D platformer that shakes up the genre by placing control of the platforms in the player's hands. It's fast-paced and smooth to control, and is fairly challenging to boot.
But has Bishop Games pulled off this unique concept gracefully, or did they stumble on the execution?
Let's find out!
Light Fall Review
In this game, you play as a young boy who has control of a mysterious artifact called the Shadow Core. It's a cube that you can manipulate around the environment in order to help you accomplish your mission.
There is a story and a bit of lore to this game, but I feel like I struggled to grasp it. It caught my interest, but it was delivered in a way that was difficult to follow. The narrator would slowly add to the story by commenting on things mid-stage and between stages, but I felt like what was being said was a bit too fantastical and removed from reality to be able to be easily understood, especially while you're in the middle of gameplay.
On top of that, there was a short segment in the middle of the game where there was a stage with literally nothing but a string of cutscenes one after another. At that point I really felt like the story was being forced upon me. Despite my gripes, I feel like it would have been just fine if they stuck to the same narration style that the other levels had and made an actual stage out of it.
A lot of the lore and backstory for the game is revealed to you through hidden collectibles. This is a concept I kind of enjoy, admittedly, but it has to be done right. Unfortunately, rather than these collectibles teasing you with pieces of a grander puzzle, they tell a chronological story of events as if you were flipping through the pages of a journal. Unless you're meticulous enough to find every hidden collectible, it feels like you're reading a journal with pages torn out, which is just disappointing at best. And don't even get me started on the slow automatic scroll speed for journal entries.
All in all, however, a platformer is not about the story. It's about the gameplay -- the movement abilities, the platforming, and whatever else might be thrown in.
Platforming With the Shadow Core
Movement is simple in Light Fall. You can jump, you can jump off of walls, and you can sprint. The controls feel tight and responsive, and I never felt like my deaths were anyone's fault but my own. However, it would have been nice if there was a sprint toggle. There's no reason not to be sprinting, and needing to hold it down all the time quickly grows tiresome.
On the topic of deaths, though, I can say that the game is fairly challenging. I might even go on to say that the difficulty curve was a little too steep for my tastes. I often experienced points in the game where the platforming started fairly simply and I could get through it without a hitch, but it would often hit a wall where you're expected to go through a long and dangerous gauntlet that you're really not prepared for. I'm not sure I'm entirely willing to write it off as the game's fault, however, as it could just be because I'm unfamiliar with the unique gameplay that comes about from having control over the Shadow Core.
The Shadow Core is pretty brilliant. It comes with four unique abilities. You can summon the cube beneath your feet in midair if you need a platform to land on. You can take control of the cube and put it in a specific location or use it to activate certain mechanisms throughout the game world. You can shoot the Shadow Core at enemies or bosses to defend yourself. And you can summon the cube to either side of you to act as a shield or even to reach greater heights by utilizing your wall jump.
The only limitation the Shadow Core sets upon the player is that it can only be used up to four times without touching the ground. With these four abilities, the player is able to use the box to accomplish feats never before seen in a platformer. It's an impressive and charming concept that works rather well for the game, and the level design does a pretty good job of accompanying it. What doesn't complement it, however, are the bosses.
A Battle of Attrition
The boss battles are a slog at best. You have an entire game built around speedrunning, but two boss battles built around RNG and waiting arbitrary amounts of time to have something to actually hit. You don't put a boss with timers on weakpoints in a game built for speed running. I can't stress enough how jarring this felt.
One moment I'm gliding across the map on my Shadow Core, the next I'm dodging projectiles in order to survive long enough to hit the boss again. Not to mention that these are the only two bosses even in the game. Luckily, since they're few and far between, you won't have to deal with them too much. When you do have to deal with them, however, it just feels like the freedom to go at your own pace is wrenched away from you and placed in the hands of the game. Suffice it to say, that just feels wrong.
Verdict - Light Fall Is a Smooth and Unique Platformer That Suffers from a Few Glaring Mishaps
Don't let any of my complaints misdirect you; Light Fall is a great game. In a time where 2D Platformers are a little oversaturated, it definitely succeeds at standing out and making a name for itself. If you're a fan of the genre and are looking for something refreshing, you'll probably like it a lot.
Personally? It may be a short game, but I only have so much time to play all of the games I want to get to. Quite frankly, I'd rather dedicate my time to getting further in Celeste than playing this -- but maybe that's an unfair comparison. If you're like me, though, and only have time to dedicate yourself to one 2D Platformer at a time, I'd definitely suggest taking a look at other options before circling back to this one.
The unique concept introduced here makes the game good, but without it, it's nothing special. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it needs to do a bit more to really climb to the top in today's market.
Review copy provided by the publisher.