Oftentimes, we see a unique gameplay mechanic and hope that mechanic is part of a great game. In the case of Light Fall, the main mechanic is great, but the game comes up short. The game’s Limbo-esque style is pleasant to look at but unfortunately is not enough to overcome Light Fall’s insufficient depth.
The main mechanic allows you to use an item called the “Shadow Core” in a variety of ways. The Shadow Core can act as a platform you create while in the air. You can also control the Shadow Core and use it to move objects, block projectiles, and solve puzzles. It’s an idea I haven’t seen before, and it forced me to think actively while platforming. I couldn’t just turn on autopilot and jump; I had to create platforms for myself in order to get through the game. It created a cool back-and-forth between puzzle and platforming gameplay.
Unfortunately, the length of the game is pretty short and it doesn’t have the opportunity to create that deep an experience. It seemed like a bunch of experimental levels rather than a layered, thought-out playthrough. Even worse, the game seemed to be artificially padded at the end. The last few levels had excessively spaced-out checkpoints, whereas similar platformers would have offered checkpoints at nearly every screen. Instead, Light Fall had me replaying segments of levels dozens of times even though I had perfected them already. It was a nuisance and really hampered the experience near the end.
The developers also take away the Shadow Core in certain parts near the end of the game to make platforming more challenging. At that point, however, Light Fall just turns into a generic platformer. If the main mechanic is not available, the game loses its appeal. Unfortunately, rather than making the game more challenging in a natural way, the developers opted to make the game harder by making checkpoints scarcer and taking away abilities. The developers should have incorporated the game mechanics to make the end levels more challenging instead.
I don’t want to make it sound like the game isn’t fun. The first part of the game is really engaging when the Shadow Core mechanic is still new. There are branching paths for you to explore and collectibles to find. There is a decent amount of natural challenge and even a speed mode for you to check out. It just never gets deep enough to feel like a full game.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t do a lot to make up for the game’s lack of depth. It’s forgettable at best and skippable at worst. The narrator does a good job and does not get irritating, but I could never get myself to care about anything that was going on in the narrative. Like the rest of the game, it lacked depth.
Light Fall is an interesting experiment, and it’s fun to play through for most of it. Unfortunately, the lack of content makes it hard to recommend a purchase, and the endgame is disappointing. I’ve got high hopes for future releases from the developer Bishop Games, and I’d love to see this mechanic again, but unfortunately, Light Fall is too simple in execution.