Of Light and Shadow Review

A charming student project that grew into a delightful full-featured game

When the triple-A heavyweights step off the stage during the summer months, indie titles often end up filling the gaps in our gaming calendar.  As with our recent foray into Reus, our discovery of Of Light and Shadow was the result of drilling down into some of the quieter corners of the indie scene, looking for a diversion from the late spring/early summer doldrums.  We’re glad we went exploring, because of Light and Shadow is the kind of quirky, fascinating title that might have slipped under our radar during a more crowded time of year.

Independent spirit

The brainchild of a dozen students from the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Of Light and Shadow is a “2.5D platformer” with some unique gameplay elements that separate it from the massive field of indie platformers released in recent years.  Playing as Dr. Shadow and Mr. Light, and switching between them on the fly, players navigate a crumbling, chaotic, and often beautiful world, dodging enemies and leaping across chasms bubbling with molten lava.  

What makes Of Light and Shadow unique are the properties of its two main protagonists.  Dr. Shadow, for instance, can walk on or around any surface, sticking to the undersides of platforms or walking vertically up sheer walls, but he can’t jump and must always remain in the shadows.  Mr. Light, on the other hand, is an excellent leaper, but he must always be bathed in light or he’ll expire.

 What immediately grabbed us when we loaded the game up for the first time were the responsive controls, and the sense of speed and energy the game imparts as you dash through it’s environments.  In the early-going, the game plays more like a traditional platformer, and the tight controls and kinetic gameplay reminded us superficially of the excellent (and insanely difficult) Super Meat Boy.

"Every artist was first an amateur"

What kept us playing, however, was the surrealist art and sound design, which combine to impart a sense of exploring an alien world that’s as interesting to look at as it is to traverse.  While the game is fairly short, it’s dense with beautiful art that backgrounds some engaging puzzles, some of which proved a genuine challenge across our handful of hours with the game. 

Best of all, the game is completely free from the developers website.  If you find yourself with a few spare hours, it costs you nothing to give Of Light and Shadow a look.  Don’t be surprised, though, if you find yourself a few hours later, controller in hand, wondering where your evening went.

Our Rating
A charming student project that grew into a delightful full-featured game
Published May. 23rd 2013

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