If you’re anything like me, whenever you think of Russia your mind immediately conjures images of onion domed buildings, beautiful ballerinas, furry hats, vodka, and of course, dashcams. Now, what if I were to tell you that a game straight from the motherland allows you to play as a dashcam? Too good to be true, you say? Well why don’t you put a bookmark in your favorite copy of Anna Karenina, grab yourself a White Russian, and let me tell you about my brief and exhilarating trip into ‘The Light‘.
I had a chance to play the recently Greenlit ‘The Light’ a few days ago, and long story short, I was thoroughly impressed. Reminiscent of ‘Dear Esther‘, this single player experience takes you to, “a world without humans. Where the peace and the beauty of the world reign. The history of probable futures of mankind, the mystery of our evolution, our progress, and our desires for luxury and infinite resources.” What does that mean exactly? Well you are most certainly alone, and the world is certainly beautiful, but the rest is completely up to interpretation. Billed as an “interactive philosophical story”, this game dazzled me with its stunning visuals and intense, often creepy, atmosphere. The strong use of lighting, etherial music, and a hefty dose of motion blur truly put you in a dream-like state as you wander around the dilapidated building and surrounding areas.
In contrast, the controls are very minimalist: mouse to look, WASD to walk, SPACE to jump, F for flashlight. You want to interact with something? Fine. Just walk into it. Done. Shut up about it.
All the positive gushing aside, there were some things that irked me. A small complaint is the fact that you clip through most of the objects strewn about the environment. This game is all about immersion, and walking through a row of waist high benches is a quick way to break that suspension of disbelief. In that same vein, I ran into a host of invisible walls. These walls weren’t keeping me from leaving the map (those walls were actually walls or fences), but rather restricting me from walking “as the crow flies” through the world. Again, it broke the suspension of disbelief and made the outdoor areas, at times, feel more like hallways instead of open spaces. My biggest complaint, however, begins and ends with one thing. Stairs. Sure, the fact that you clip through most of the objects bugged me, and yes, the numerous invisible walls bothered me too, but those are peanuts compared to stairs. For whatever reason, you cannot walk up certain staircases without repeatedly jumping. You can walk down just fine, but getting back up is a tedious task at best. It was annoying, broke the immersion, and made the game feel unfinished somehow. Perhaps when the game is released on Steam it will feature fully functional stairs, but for now you’ll have to channel your inner Skyrim and make do.
Although it was brief (maybe 45 minutes), I loved the time I spent with ‘The Light’. I found myself immersed in a gorgeous world full of lens flares, particle effects, and cryptic storytelling. It was a thought provoking experience that allows you to draw your own conclusions, even if you conclude that you have no idea what’s going on.