Set in the lonely and abandoned metropolis of Hope City, Irisloft’s Flood of Light is a 2D-puzzle game all about uncovering the mysteries of where you came from, and where everyone else has gone. Accompanied by some friendly robots and a beautiful score, you set out to reduce the flood that has swallowed the city thus far, all the while piecing together the history of Hope City and its downfall.
Offering mechanics most comparable with ‘dot-to-dot’ puzzles, Flood of Light will keep you engaged in how to solve each challenge it presents, while gradually increasing the difficulty as you progress further into the lower districts of the city. While dot-to-dot without numbers may seem challenging enough, the game throws in its own series of rules that will make immediate solutions implausible, such as your character’s limited reach and incompatible colors of light.
One of the biggest aspects to get right throughout an experience is audio, and Flood of Light has no problem with that. While you journey through the game, you’ll be listening to soft and flowing piano pieces, broken up nicely with calming rainfall on concrete and trees. Adding to the soundscape are the light footsteps of your character and the occasional thunder in the distance. Each of these sensations contribute towards engulfing the player into a serene atmosphere, never feeling lost or empty. Visually, the game’s beautiful hand-drawn 2D graphics are a joy to look at, with a perfect balance of contrast between the grey tones and the colors. Each district of the city that you enter has its own distinct look, varying from luxurious rooftops to industrial facilities, and to public living, all of which emphasize the expressive style of the game.
Puzzles are not all the game has to offer, as there are also many collectibles and secrets that completionists can hunt down. One form of these is a series of letters that all give further context and background to the story, and the characters that had a part in the events. Another are robots that you can repair and then talk to you a little about the area you’re currently in, and their unanimous Prophecy. The last collectible is more challenging as there are 49 lanterns across the game marked with a symbol, and each must be lit once you leave that level. To do this, you will have to rethink how you distribute the light available in each level to make sure you have enough for both the lanterns and the puzzle solutions.
My time with the game was spent on the Nintendo Switch and I tested out both controller and touchscreen functionality, both offering ease of use and intuitive controls. For example, in handheld mode, various functionality icons appear on the HUD (such as ‘restart’) that would normally only appear in the game menu. The game is also available on PC and Mobile devices.
Speaking of the restart button, the game has a very helpful checkpoint system. You come across save icons within the levels, and that will be where you go from when you restart a puzzle, or reload the game. While this can be very helpful when you need to restart a puzzle after a trial and error, it can be a little strange when you finish a level, quit the game, and then reload back to the latest save point inside the level you had previously completed. This is only a minor flaw with the checkpoints, though, and certainly nothing to kick off about.
The only real downside to the game is the execution of the narrative. This was due to the game text being translated from Chinese to English, and that rarely comes without faults. While the developers have done a fairly good job in translating the story into English, a few noticeable flaws appear. Many of the sentences and phrases in both the letters and dialogue don’t seem to make clear sense. Now, for the most part you’re still able to deduct what the game is getting at with its text, but it does take you out of the experience slightly when you have to figure out the meaning. Again, it’s nothing game-breaking, but something that you will certainly notice as you play. Luckily, the story holds its intrigue and mystery enough, so while it might take a moment to understand what the text is depicting, you still want to hunt down more answers.
Flood of Light is a beautiful and fascinating game with a story that feels new and effectively told through pieces of text and mystery. The puzzles are fresh, and gain challenge and new mechanics as you progress, never feeling old or exhausted. The hand-drawn art style combined with amazing audio will allure you into the enchanting Hope City while you search for answers. If you enjoy puzzle games and subtle but intriguing stories, then you should definitely play Flood of Light.