Fall and rise.
Within five minutes I broke the game, escaping outside of a level’s confines. The platforming wasn’t as tight as I’d have hoped, and a disappointing amount could be cheesed through. Other bugs and exploits presented themselves along the way.
But Light Fall didn’t release in March as originally planned, instead being pushed back to the end of April. I’m pleased to say that this extra month of last-minute polish has done it the world of good.
Light Fall takes place within the Forgotten Wastes of Numbra, desolate lands that have been plunged into eternal night. This enchanting setting is characterised by shadowy silhouettes and dusky blue and purple hues. A soundtrack of lovely piano and orchestral arrangements flits between tranquillity and grandeur, lending the world a sense of mystique.
The cutscenes are a surprising highlight, featuring the most beautiful artwork in the game. These are narrated over with exposition whilst vivid layers of imagery slowly pulse and move.
There’s background lore to uncover in each level, too, rewarding exploration. Bizarrely, however, this is delivered through small auto-scrolling text boxes. With dizzying numbers of otherworldly names and concepts to keep track of – Kamloops, Sylveon, Grypex, Strypex – it’s nigh-impossible to properly absorb the story in this manner. The writing is also a little amateurish, with questionable grammar.
Light Fall’s raison d’être is the Shadow Core, a magic cube which your character can materialise in a split second. This multipurpose device lends itself as a provisional platform, protective barrier and even a remote-controlled drone of sorts. It’s a genius mechanic which treads new ground in the heavily beaten path of platformers.
But in crafting the Shadow Core, Bishop Games created a monster. The omnipotence of being able to spawn four platforms mid-air combined with infinite wall-jump and blazing momentum makes it feel like you’re playing with cheat codes. When I previewed the game last month I regularly exploited obvious shortcuts which let me skirt around the main platforming elements.
Thankfully, this has been clamped down on. Light Fall’s later acts in particular do a better job of reining in your superpowers, enclosing in the levels with hazardous walls and traps. This strikes the fine balance between a liberating freedom of movement and letting you walk all over it – quite literally. There’s a pleasing crescendo in challenge towards the end of the game. Some sections will demand multiple retries, but checkpoints are at least generously scattered around.
Unfortunately, the final boss battle seemingly missed out on the recent refinements completely. Clunky and repetitive mechanics collide with placeholder-esque visuals, some of which glitch out. A painfully clichéd bad-guy monologue that repeats with every attempt doesn’t help matters. This ending sours what has otherwise developed into a much more solid offering.
Light Fall has bags of atmosphere and an inventive key concept. Whilst it doesn’t match the design prowess of the genre’s stalwarts, it’s a brief but enjoyable platforming adventure.