One Upon Light takes place in a laboratory after an experiment has gone horribly wrong. The unnamed scientist you play as has to try and escape the harsh environments by creeping in the shadows, because the light is your enemy and the darkness is your ally. The entire game is based around creating shadows and pulling levers in order to progress. While there are a few cutscenes, there is no real story here so the game is almost solely about puzzle solving – which is fine as the puzzles are good. The first few levels are extremely easy, but the game does pick up and some of the later levels are actually quite challenging.
Each stage tasks players with getting from one side to the other, with plenty of light in-between; players have to do a variety of chores in order to reach the next level such as moving cabinets, switching levers and hiding in the shadows just to name a few. The later levels get very challenging, offering tougher puzzles while making checkpoints less frequent – the latter of which can be a nuisance as it is a bore to play through the same sections of a level over and over again.
As mentioned before, the puzzles are solid and very unique: manipulating the darkness to your advantage feels great and completing some of the latter puzzles is very rewarding. Some of the ways light seeps into the laboratory is also very creative; from windows to dance-floor lights, there is plenty of imagination on show. Also, the game never gets extremely difficult or unfair, which is huge plus as many titles in this genre fall into that trap.
The controls are very simple and work well enough even though there are some issues with manoeuvring the scientist. The problem with controlling him is that he can only move in eight directions, which takes a little getting used to. Additionally, there are occasional delays in movement when you try to move a cabinet, which can result in cheap deaths that are irritating to say the least. On a side note, there is no option to run or sprint, so there are times when the scientist is being chased by light and he just continues to awkwardly walk instead of run for his life, which looks very comical.
In terms of overall presentation, One Upon Light performs well, as you would expect from a game about lights. The lighting is great while the character designs are also pretty good. The monochrome levels give the title a unique vibe and thankfully the filter never get old. The only issue with the visuals is that objects in the foreground can occasionally obstruct the player’s view, which can result in death. The sound effects are pleasant, with simple things such as lights turning on sounding marvellous. Unfortunately though, there is no soundtrack whatsoever, which is a shame as the game feels eerily quiet.
In total the game has about three hours’ worth of content, which, while may seem short on paper, is just about right as the game begins to overstay its welcome towards the end due to the gameplay being fairly similar throughout. In fact, one of the endings quite literally has you replay the beginning levels for a second time. However that is not to stay that One Upon Light lacks innovation, because it does not. The pacing of which new mechanics are introduced, such as the ‘shadow echo’, which basically allows players to save shadows on the screen, is especially well done. But with that being said, three hours is essentially all you’re going to get out of the game, as there are no leaderboards or anything else to keep you coming back – so do not expect One Upon Light to be on your hard drive for long after you beat the game.
Overall, One Upon Light is a good puzzler which will keep you entertained for a few hours. The puzzles are clever, the graphics are unique, and the overall game is solid. It would have been nice if there was a little more variety, as the game could have been longer, which would ultimately make sure that customers were getting more value for their money. Due to the game’s short length, this is not a title which I would recommend playing immediately, but if puzzle games are something which you are interested in, it is definitely worth trying out.
Bright, But Burns Out Quickly
A solid puzzler that will keep you entertained for a few hours at most.