One Upon Light (PS4) Review

Justin Celani

You light up my life and it hurts sometimes.

Light and dark have always been something that games have tried to portray in some manner or another, be it storyline beats, character arcs, or even lighting mechanics in general. What if I told you there was a game that used this for its puzzles? A game where darkness and shadows is where safety awaited and the light was the bringer of death. We have an interesting set up here in One Upon Light, but is it one that ultimately pays off?

Featuring a top down viewpoint, players take on the role of a scientist who seemingly has been caught in a catastrophic moment. Appearing to be stuck in some sort of underground facility, he suddenly finds himself being hurt by sources of light. What transpired and occurs is told via newspaper articles that the player must reach at the end of a level. They provide very little in the way of a narrative story, but just enough to give backstory on what possibly happened. It’s not really the important aspect of the game though.

onceuponlight_04

MSRP: $9.99
Platforms: PS4
Price I’d Pay: $5.00
Multiplayer: N/A
How long to beat: Two hours +

Puzzles that feature light and darkness are the key focus here. Being that light hurts players and rather quickly, staying in the shadows in an absolute necessity. Using boxes, environmental objects, and more, players will have to truly use everything at their disposal to make it past the light. Sometimes the light source moves, other times it’s the shadow that does. It can be quite the cause of some interesting situations, and one in where players die quite a lot. Luckily, the game quickly gets players back into the action, but it can lead to some frustrations.

Visuals are simple enough in very black and white setting. They use the source of light as the brighter whites, and the shadows as the darker blacks. It’s the lighting and seeing the light bend and move around objects and becoming part of the puzzle that is interesting and nice to look at. Wondering how a source of light will bend around an object allowing players to pass is a nice feeling once figured out. Sound wise nothing seemed extremely memorable, but the sounds of the environment were appropriate and fitting.

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My concerns with the game are the overall short length and the frustration involved with the gameplay. The puzzles are great; some are simple, and others are a bit more obscure or take thinking outside the box, which is completely fine. The sluggish movement of the character, how fast some of the shadows move, along with light being able to kill rather quickly and slowing players down as if they are stuck in tar is disappointment. It just remains frustrating the entire game and the window for screwing up is extremely short.

Upon the light has a nice visual look and some interesting, if typical mechanics. The idea of light and darkness playing reverse roles is something I find interesting, but the puzzles and gameplay are what will bring people in to play. There is a slim story here but it’s just a serviceable means to get to the end of the levels, nothing really more. Its feels more suitable to be a game you’d play on your phone or on a tablet versus consoles, but it’s still enjoyable while it lasts. I’d like to see a bigger game with a broader scope from the team in the future, as the idea behind it is one that can be expanded in the future. Puzzle fans might want to take a look, just be sure to stay out of the light.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Light and dark
  • Interesting puzzles

Bad

  • Story elements lacking
  • Sluggish controls
  • Death comes quickly
6

Decent

Justin Celani
Justin is a long time passionate fan of games, not gaming drama. He loves anything horror related, archaeology inspired adventures, RPG goodness, Dr Pepper, and of course his family. When it comes to crunch time, he is a beast, yet rabies free we promise.
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