Light Tracer shines brightly on Rift and Vive
Following a successful launch on the PlayStation VR last October, Light Tracer is now available on Steam, giving Oculus Rift and HTC Vive owners have a chance to experience one of the most clever puzzle-platformers of 2017. While saccharine sweet on the surface, Don’t let its charming, diorama-like visuals fool you. Beneath Light Tracer’s whimsical exterior lies an addicting and often challenging romp that will test both platforming skills – and occasionally your patience.
The goal of the game is simple enough. Players take control of a godlike entity to assist a diminutive princess on her quest to find a magical cure for her people who’ve been overcome with a mysterious illness. Unfortunately for the spunky little princess, this cure lies at the top of a massive tower. A tower teeming with deadly traps, meddlesome baddies, and all sorts of puzzles to solve along the way.
Such Great Heights
While the premise is interesting, just how you interact with the princess is Light Tracer’s most novel feature. Every step this hapless heroine takes is at your direct order. True to the game’s name, players use a magic wand that emits beams light. This light is used to guide the princess through the game world. In order to complete each stage, you’ll need to steer her along perilous pathways and ever upward to the glowing portal waiting at the highest point of the stage.
Each of these stages features five acts which get progressively more challenging as they introduce new enemies and mechanics, such as various platforms and other objects in the environment that need to be manipulated to help the princess progress along the way. While you use your right to guide the princess with your scepter, interacting with these objects is done with the left motion controller.
This sounds simple enough. However, in practice, it doesn’t always work as you’d hope it would. Performing seemingly simple actions, like sliding and rotating moveable platforms, is incredibly jittery and unresponsive. Unfortunately, this leads to plenty of unnecessary deaths as you watch a platform shift violently in an unintentional direction, leaving your poor princess tumbling to her death as a result of some questionable collision detection.
Thankfully, while annoying, these platforms only pop up a few times per area. And, as luck would have it, checkpoints are never far behind. So while death may be your frequent companion in Light Tracer, a dirt nap will never put you too far behind from where you left off.
All Up In Arms
Light Tracer is a puzzle platformer at its core that puts a premium on testing your grey matter and reflexes rather than your brute strength. However, that’s not to say it’s entirely devoid of combat. Eventually, the princess gets her hands on a sword that can be used to cut down most baddies that get in her way. However, it has very limited reach, so you’ll need to put yourself in danger to use it. And her rather slow swings prohibit you from trying to take on more than one enemy at a time.
Personally, I really liked the way combat was Handled in Light Tracer – at least during the stages themselves. It does a great job of making you feel like you’re not entirely helpless, while still encouraging you to rely on your wits more than your weaponry. However, it’s during boss fights where combat becomes problematic. The biggest issue is that it can be incredibly difficult to tell when you’re actually dealing damage to a boss.
To make matters worse, once you die, the fight resumes where you left off with the boss back at full health. This can make these encounters feel like a real exercise in futility. This is a shame, as these fights could have been a great way to cap off each level. Instead, they prove to be the most frustrating part of Light Tracer’s package.
Go Into The Light
Despite these occasional moments of frustration, I really enjoyed my time with Light Tracer. Developer Void Dimensions deserves credit for crafting a vibrant, lighthearted VR adventure that manages to feel truly unique. Each stage offers plenty of clever puzzles and challenging platforming that will make you want to climb ever higher into the clouds – even after you’ve found yourself dying for the umpteenth time.While not without its faults, Light Tracer is an entertaining and instantly charming romp that Rift and Vive owners with a soft spot for puzzle platformers should enjoy.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation 4; Publisher: Oasis Games ; Developer: Void Dimensions; Players: 1 ; Released: January 15, 2018 ; MSRP: $14.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a Steam copy of Light Tracer provided by the publisher.