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Review: Light Fall (Switch)

Light Fall… Where did I hear of this one before? Oh, right! It was one of the many games I got to try out at PAX South back in 2017. It’s funny how time marches on; it never occurred to me a lot of games announced for other platforms would make their way to the house of Mario as well.

Light Fall proves to be an interesting case in this regard. I said I was looking out for its release despite not even knowing it would come out for a platform for the Switch. I thought it was a very cool game that had plenty of potential behind it. It’s been well over a year since the last time I checked it out; do I still think it’s worth playing? Well, I suppose that’s what we’re here for.

Story

In this world, everything has basically gone to heck. Darkness prevails over light and as such, light objects tend to be the dangerous ones. You play as a young boy who is trying to look for a goddess he remembers getting along with. Accompanying him is this mysterious box that he is able to manipulate known as the Shadow Core. An old owl named Stryx takes note of this boy and his power so he travels along with the kid in order to keep him in check. The owl carries the usual traits you’d expect an aged character to posess; he’s a wise man but also has a habit of remarking about the boy’s reckless behavior.

Stryx also provides details on the various locations you’d visit and what has been going on around these parts. Naturally the story has a focus on the relationship between the two main characters as the old owl grows accustomed to the player. It isn’t like the player could change this narrative though. Stryx will go through all of the motions in the story no matter what.

Graphics

Without a doubt, Light Fall is a pretty game. I was always charmed by its uses of color; not many colors are used at all but the way they are utilized – especially with this contrast between light and dark – creates a very appealing world. The obstacles are also visually distinct from the backgrounds via the contrast so it’s not too hard to tell what may kill you and what is part of the environment. The frame rate doesn’t quite reach the ideal sixty frames-per-second mark but it’s certainly smooth enough for the action to click properly.

Audio

Orchestral soundtracks are great for atmosphere and Light Fall has plenty of that to go around. Just don’t expect much of the music to stay in your head for long. What’s more pronounced is the full-fledged voice acting. For the grand majority of the game, Stryx is the only one that talks whether he decides to explain the context of the levels the player travels through to commenting on the player character’s aimlessly youthful nature.

When I was going over my thoughts on the game from my time at PAX, I realized I said the voice acting is a bit too much like that of a Saturday morning cartoon. Not much has changed but I figure I may as well elaborate on why I say that. With the serious tone that the story has and all that happened before the boy meets Stryx, you’d think the his voice would have more emotion and concern to it. Instead, he sounds not unlike that of how old man voices usually sound in cartoon shows. This even applies to the second voice you hear much later in the game; he doesn’t sound like anything but a generic hammy bad guy. These aren’t bad voices but they don’t add to what the game’s story desires to convey.

Gameplay

Beneath the character interactions and stylistic atmosphere, Light Fall is a 2D platformer where you go from Point A to Point B. The little boy can run, jump, wall kick, and do some cool stuff with the Shadow Core. The Shadow Core makes up the bulk of the more interesting abilities the boy can do. Not only can it be used as a platform but you’re able to jump up to four times with it around. You can also use it to shield yourself from projectiles, as a key for some turning puzzles, or even as a fiery projectile.

It’s simply a lot of fun to perform these abilities – particularly jumping across large stretches of terrain. Light Fall takes great advantage of what it offers to the player by having level designs that are just challenging enough to test his or her newly discovered skills. This is trueeven when death is a slap on the wrist; checkpoints are generously placed most of the time. The only time I thought things went overboard was when I faced the final boss. It was exhausting enough to get to the third phase but there just had to be more to get through.

Verdict

Nevertheless, Light Fall gets a strong recommendation from me. It’s a quality title that does what it sets out to do, albeit with some relatively minor things that could use a change-up. The bigger positives of the title shine through in obvious fashions, and it certainly has a lot more to offer than the $14.99 price suggests. It’s as good of a game as I imagined it would be when I first played it last year.

Review copy provided by Bishop Games

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