The forest is calling
Every once in a while, we need to check back in with ourselves and make sure where we’re headed in life is what we actually want. Getting burned out from work? Re-evaluate that position and consider taking a new one elsewhere or change up your routine. Feeling like all the days are blurring together? Try doing something new, such as taking up a new hobby or challenging yourself in terms of improvement. Losing your purpose? Look inwards for the light that calls out, and let it complete you as you listen to what it earnestly says, lest you be devoured by darkness.
That’s the healing power that exists within us, and that’s what I took away from She and the Light Bearer.
Developed by Mojiken Studios and published by Toge Productions, She and the Light Bearer is a colorful tale of musical mythology as told by a wise old grandmother to her precious, precocious grandchildren. A point-and-click adventure/visual novel that looks like Rakuen and Gris had a baby yet vibes like OPUS: The Day We Found Earth and Machinarium, She and the Light Bearer is one of those titles that quietly makes itself known, leaving an impact that digs deeper long after you’ve stopped playing.
She and the Light Bearer unfolds (quite literally) as a tale regaled by a grandmother to her grandchildren, passing on their cultural traditions and explaining to the children why they celebrate a certain holiday. She reminds them of the world’s creation, of the time it fell into darkness, and how it was brought back to its current glory once again by the light bearer. That hero is the small but mighty Firefly, and it’s that hero players will control in order to awaken Mother and restore the world.
As She and the Light Bearer is a point-and-click game, all that’s needed is a mouse to click on specific important objects to further the story. To make things easier, the items are highlighted and a sound is emitted when the mouse hovers over them. Although it can make the next step painfully obvious, it allows the scenery to get more creative, as movement isn’t necessarily a visual cue to what’s next; as such, it’s a nice touch to see grass swaying in the breeze or characters inhaling and exhaling. As Firefly traipses through the forest, this design choice makes the surroundings legitimately seem alive — a design choice that painted an immersive picture as a magical, spirited forest.
While on the topic of visuals, they obviously speak for themselves; the art style elegantly toes the line between cutesy cartoons and mature majesty. The colors are vibrant, but they pop only where they need to be, juxtaposed against the restful backgrounds that only serve to soothe. Each section of the map is memorable and distinct from the others, despite the overall lush, green scenery which morphs as the storyline progresses. The level of detail and the use of color in She and the Light Bearer is absolute eye candy, and its soothing natural beauty certainly pleased the senses.
The writing in She and the Light Bearer is delightful and chock full of charm; each character has their own distinct personality that, while simple enough to fit the overall mood, shows complexity in its storytelling. Take, for example, the Mushroom (that’s Great Supreme Lord Mushroom to you) — the overbearing military type who barks orders but keeps promises. Then, of course, General Potato, who doesn’t actually have any weaknesses! Not one! Especially not water! Why would you even ask! Did that Mushroom put you up to it! I think my favorite was Gloomy, the flower who was supposed to brighten up a gloomy area but got sad while doing it, which caused it to spin into a downwards spiral of self-deprecation and depression. Pretty heavy for a flower!
Although a large part of She and the Light Bearer’s charm is in its simplicity, the subjective drawback therein is that it’s a little on the short side and possibly aimed at a younger crowd (or at least well-suited for them). And although the story is beautifully woven, it doesn’t get truly exciting until near the very end, so if you’re playing it late at night, be prepared to get a little drowsy. I feel like these are all subjective issues, however — it’s just one of those things I know some players like a little heads up on.
She and the Light Bearer reminds us that we should be listening to that still, small voice that whispers to us, suggesting we correct our internal compass when feeling out of sorts. A charming, quick story that cleanses the palette of heavy-hitting, stressful games, I came out of She and the Light Bearer feeling refreshed in the same way one might wake up after a particularly restful sleep. This game is perfect for anyone who enjoys wholesome point-and-click adventures or who is looking to get their child into an age-appropriate title that stimulates the imagination. If you’re looking to destress from a more adrenaline-pumping title and looking for something you can reasonably beat after a long day of work and feel not drained — instead, rejuvenated — She and the Light Bearer is well worth the time and money. Feel free to try out the demo if you’re still not sure!
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: Switch, Mobile, PC (reviewed); Publisher: Toge Productions; Developer: Mojiken Studios; Players: 1; Released: January 17, 2020; MSRP: $9.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a retail copy of She and the Light Bearer purchased by the reviewer.