Light was a promising game at first. Watching the trailers beforehand, I was quite excited to play it. And when I did, I realised Light was not an exciting game. Nor did it have good storytelling, deep gameplay, or even decent length. Light is a mess, playing as simply as it looks, with little substance, little courage, and little charm.
Light tells the story of a prisoner trapped in some kind of science lab. Thanks to amnesia, you have no recollection of who you are, where you are or how you got there. All there is to know is escape and solve the endless mysteries that accompany amnesia. During the escape, you will discover a link between yourself, the mysterious 'Project Light', and the realisation that all is not well. Not exactly the most original idea, but it is compelling at first.
One of Light's chief strengths is its visuals. The graphics are simple but work well enough to make the experience feel original. But don't be fooled, Light is an example of a game's good looks not translating into a good game. As you might suspect, light and shadow have a part to play in visuals, but they don't contrast as well as they should thanks to the sea of different colours surrounding them. The soundtrack is on par with the visuals, and give it a somewhat futuristic vibe. Still, they're nothing to write home about.
Light plays well enough, but doesn't venture far from the standard W,S,A,D controls. The prisoner trapped in the mysterious facility is represented by a blue square. To bypass the guards, stealth is encouraged. Killing them or civilians will trigger a two minute timer and decrease your high score at the end of the level. You can hide their body in a closet or cupboard, ensuring other guards will not find them and go on full alert. You can also take their uniform, disguising yourself as a guard to make it harder for others to recognise you. Attacking guards head on is risky, as they can kill you with a single shot and have deadly accuracy. Light and shadows are used here (in the form of Metal Gear Solid-esque cones of vision) but, disappointingly, they're not utilised in any meaningful way.
Now, onto the really negative. To start, Light is incredibly short clocking in at around 45 minutes, if not less. Whats worse, the game costs a ludicrous $12.99, making the length:price ratio very unfair. There are 12 levels, all of which can easily be completed in a couple of minutes. Light offers little challenge and later levels can be beaten in less than five minutes, including retries. You could replay the levels to beat your high score, but I was never compelled to do so.
While the gameplay mechanics are interesting, they are badly underdeveloped and overly simple. Hacking in particular is a disappointingly underdeveloped mechanic. It's a simple case of pressing a button and selecting the door you want opened or camera disabled. There isn't even a minigame to carry you through the hacking process, making it a very dull, simple affair. While the stealth mechanics hold some interest, it's merely a question of whether or not to kill an enemy. The tasks given are menial, repetitive and generic, usually along the lines of 'Collect the Intel' or 'Find the Exit'. In other words, most of the tasks require you to walk up something, click it, and continue on your way. Very interesting indeed.
The story, while interesting at first, falls well short of its potential. The story is told through introductory paragraphs and documents collected in the field. The scripting is unoriginal and feels slapped together at the last minute. Worse still, the abrupt and lackluster ending exposes major plot holes.
Unsatisfying, under-developed gameplay mechanics and a ridiculously short length, Light is anything but the name suggests. It's hard to recommend to anyone, even fans of Thomas Was Alone or Monaco: What's Yours is Mine, but for those who really must play Light, I would recommend waiting for a Steam sale. Even then, I wouldn't buy it unless it was 85% off. Or 90%. Or maybe you should just buy a flashlight and a couple of sock puppets. Trust me, you'll have much more fun with them than with Light.