|Genre||Relaxing indie puzzler|
|Buy from Developer|
Simple yet complex? Possibly. Simply complex? Not quite right. I know it’s here somewhere and I think you get the point. L!ght Deluxe is a delightfully simple puzzle game from a new-to-me Indie Developer: Nemo Games. Looking at their website, it would appear that L!ght Deluxe is their first, or perhaps their only game. While the game definitely feels like an early effort, it shows promise and offers some interesting aspects to its gameplay.
L!ght deluxe is built on a basic concept that allows degrees of complexity to be added as you advance through the "levels". At its elemental level, you are trying to connect a line, uninterrupted, from its origin to its ultimate destination. Each puzzle takes place on a large grid, much like a Chess board. Early levels are smaller, perhaps grids that are 6 x 6 squares in size. However, as levels increase in complexity and difficulty, they get larger.
The line you are tasked with completing represents light and behaves as one would expect a beam of light (or laser to add a bit of intensity) to behave. In my opinion, it’s this foundational principle that allows the game to be successful much earlier than it would be otherwise. We all inherently understand that light bounces off reflective surfaces and changes colors as it passes or filters through other materials. The nature of light, and our assumed understanding of it, allows the developers to move more quickly with tutorials as we progress through the game and are introduced to the gradually increasing complexity of the puzzle designs.
It starts off very simply: Move a light "receptor" in front of a beam of light. Once the beam of light reaches the receptor, the level is successfully complete. You can slide the receptor, or rotate it. When you slide it however, it will continue sliding until it hits something; another object, the edge of the board, etc. The other objects can be reflective (mirrors) or refractive (light bending). They can even be color filters such that they change the color of the beam of light. When this happens, you’re required to match up the correct color beam with its matching colored receptor. This is where the strategy comes in. In order to mate a beam with its receptor, you’ll be required to slide and rotate the various objects around the board. The closest thing I can equate this to is those little tile games I used to get from my parents on long car trips as a child. They were small pictures on plastic tiles in a flat square container. There was always one piece missing in order to leave room to slide the pieces around. You would slide the pieces around until the image was correctly lined up. That’s essentially what you do in L!ght Deluxe, only the pieces are more varied and moving them changes the entire picture.
So, now you have a good idea what the game is about. But, is it any fun? I’m not sure that "fun" is the right word to describe L!ght Deluxe, but my time with the game was enjoyable. At times I felt it was rewarding to solve a more complex puzzle, and at times I felt stumped, yet in a good way. It’s the simplicity that keeps it from becoming frustrating. As you look at a puzzle you know the solution is absolutely basic. Move this piece there, and rotate this piece twice and you’ve got it. It becomes difficult when several moves are required in a specific order, but never are you required to understand advanced Calculus to solve a puzzle. Once you get a feel for how the game works, you start to see possible solutions more quickly and that feels good.
L!ght Deluxe is a thoughtful diversionary piece of software. The use of light as its gameplay mechanic is fleshed out well. The music is very light-hearted and relaxing, with a melodious Celtic feel. It fits the mood of the game well. The admittedly basic graphics emphasize characteristics of light, with sparkles and interesting colors. One feature that’s likely to go unnoticed yet really works well is the alteration of the color of the boards as you reset them. If you’re working on a puzzle and become confused and reset it, the background color will change. This seems like just a nicety until you realize that looking at certain boards in certain colors is more conducive to solving them. If you’re struggling with a level that is all brown perhaps try it in blue and maybe the solution will be more clear. Very neat. Another nice feature is that the game supports multiple profiles. If you solve a puzzle it will remain unsolved on any other profiles, so up to 5 people can enjoy this game on the same install. The game tracks each profiles performance independently so you can compare who solved puzzles the fastest or in the fewest moves. Also, there is a level editor. According to the blurb on the developer’s site, it’s the same level editor they used to design the "over 100" unique levels. This is a great bonus as you can upload and trade levels on the developer’s site. (Full Disclosure: I didn’t try this for this review as the review copy of the game didn’t include this feature) Lastly, the game is stated to be DRM free, which I found noteworthy.
As I mentioned, this game comes across as an early effort. Based on the broken English in the tutorial and on the website, it’s clear the programmer(s) are not native English speakers. This doesn’t pose any practical problem, as the text is simple enough that I was never confused by the poor grammar or spelling. However, if they want to get your $10, I highly recommend polishing up the tutorial text on the demo. I have no problem recommending a game that someone built in their basement but nobody wants to buy a game that LOOKS like it was designed in somebody’s basement. Lastly, and perhaps most egregiously, the game appeared to crash every time I closed it (Running Windows Vista on a Dual Core AMD). This wasn’t a big problem, since I was always finished playing anyway, but every time I closed the game, I would get the windows popup stating that L!ghtDeluxe.exe had stopped working. One of the crashes actually wiped out several of the puzzles I had completed. This was pretty frustrating. I hope this is fixed in the full version.
L!ght Deluxe is strongest when you’re relaxed. Sitting at your computer staring at a puzzle, listening to the music can be a pretty good experience. If you are a person who can relax while confronting a brain bending puzzle, you will likely enjoy this game. If you don’t like to relax at your computer, you may find the game a bit underwhelming. Each puzzle has a timer and I understand why. The object is to solve the puzzles quickly. But honestly, I found this to be counter-intuitive to the aesthetic of the game. I think it would be better to hide the timer, or give the option to hide the timer and only openly track the number of moves during the gameplay. Being that this game is best enjoyed in a relaxed state, I found the timer to be a bit of an annoyance. Who wants to be rushed as they try to relax physically while stimulating the gray matter?
Having not played a game similar to this before, I’m hesitant to give it a number score. I’d rather say that if they can get the crashing fixed and polish up the tutorial text, this game is well worth $10 for anyone who enjoys zoning out in a simple yet challenging puzzle game, particularly if you think you’ll take advantage of the level editor and upload/download feature. With this feature and some creative users, the game could be played almost endlessly.
L!ght Deluxe is available for download from Nemo Games for $10.