Ingenious Indie Platformer Light Fall Soars High

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Have you ever wished you could jump over a particularly perilous chasm in a platform game by building your portable platform beneath your feet to catch you as you fall? The answer, of course, is yes, and in Light Fall, you have the opportunity to do precisely that and way more besides. Welcome to the mysterious world of Numbra.

Light Fall takes a giant leap into the unknown courtesy of designers David Dion-Paquet, Ben Archer and Mathieu Robillard with their ingenious way of progressing through complex platform puzzles. The portable landing pad you can build is even more inventive than it sounds, with the ‘Shadow Core’ can unlock areas where a key might usually be needed, hoist pulleys up or down and slide loose what is stuck. It’s a proper box of tricks and colossal fun to master as you navigate your way around the game.

The land of Numbra is under serious threat from Light, which takes shape in various pink crystal-like manifestations. You can land in mid-air, climb up sheer drops, and quickly negotiate dangerous reductions by creating your magical Shadow Core beneath your feet. But if you think that the Shadow Core makes Light Fall easy, you’re mistaken. Yuk.

While you’re in charge of your physical surroundings way more than in most action platformers, your journey is hazardous, ably narrated by the only speaking character, a witty owl named Stryx. There are several beautifully drawn areas of Numbra to explore, and each one looks different enough to produce a new challenge and a fresh look.

From the Marshlands of Sorrow (or school as I used to call it) to the wonderous Lunar Plain, there is a lot of imagination in each location. The Vipera’s Forest was terrific to look at, and the Unknown Depths test your abilities with the Shadow Core to the full.

As well as the story mode, you can participate in Speedrun, where you race through areas against your friends, competing to get to the end as fast as possible. There’s even an online leaderboard to earn your racing stripes.

Light Fall is swift to progress through, and you can quite comfortably complete the game in its purest form in five or six hours. However, conquering every challenge in its most rigid form will test even the most hardened gamers.

If there are a few criticisms I could level at Light Fall, I will start with saying that the game suffers from an unsatisfactory ending, with an end boss I didn’t love. To add to that gripe, there are too many checkpoints, which reduce the overall gameplay time. Some areas I lucked my way through were never to be thrown at me again, even though they may have challenged me.

Bishop Games have done a great job reinventing a reasonably well-trodden path in platform games. Playing on a Mac, you find yourself holding the ‘Shift’ button to make those long jumps, but the Shadow Core adds so much to gameplay that you can forgive it. Having to lose the abilities of the Shadow Core near the end game felt a little unfair, but if anything only underlines how fantastic the innovation is in the first place.

There are a host of fun collectables to find in Numbra, and getting used to the Shadow Core was the most fun I’ve had in a platform game for many a year. How that develops and changes in terms of difficulty throughout the game surprised and delighted me. For example, you can only use it four times in the air before you need to charge it by landing on terra firma.

Light Fall has achieved a score of 72% on Metacritic to date, 8/10 on TechRaptor and an even more impressive 8.5/10 on CGMagazine. Released in April 2018 on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Windows and Mac for $14.99, the game is on offer for just £10.99 on Steam. You can watch the game’s trailer here, while a walk through some of the gameplay you can expect to face is here to help you.

I found Light Fall to be a thoroughly uplifting game, with some quirky innovations that were so strong that I look forward to what the designers of the game will produce next. Whatever you do, make sure that you play Light Fall – you’ll be on the up and unlikely ever to come down.

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