Light comes from independent developer Just a Pixel and was created by a team comprising of just four individuals. Just as the name of the development team suggests, Light is a game where characters are represented by mere pixel blocks, and involves exploring environments that resemble raw construction blueprints. This rather basic and simplistic exterior quickly becomes part of the game’s charm and visual appeal. Although far removed from games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid, Light falls comfortably under the stealth action genre. To put it crudely, Light feels like as if it is taking place inside the map radar HUD of Metal Gear Solid. So in essence, with Light you get a stealth action game that is in its rawest and purest form, one that is devoid all the graphical fluff and more importantly, devoid of all the lengthy and often dragged-on cinematic sequences.
In Light you assume the role of a amnesiac who immediately sets out to escape a scientific facility called Synthesis Futuristics. The protagonist is an experimental subject of this evil corporation and serves as a crucial component to an endeavor that is code-named “Project Light.” The story moves along fairly quickly and progressively unravels bits and pieces of the mystery and its characters. The plot is fairly interesting and it manages to hold your interest well enough. There’s bits of dialogue, intelligence to collect and some campy narration, all coming together convincingly by the end.
Light comes across as a stealth action game, but the more time you spend with it, the more it feels like a puzzle game. It plays like a stripped down Metal Gear Solid as the enemies and security cameras have a limited and defined field of vision that needs to be worked around, and if you manage to steal and wear an enemy’s uniform then this drastically reduces their scope of vision and alertness. There’s stealth kills and bodies can even be hidden inside lockers, but the game rewards you more for minimizing casualties as each kill shaves a good chunk off your final score. There’s plenty of hacking involved too, as doors are bypassed and terminals are hacked in order to disable cameras and unlock doors. All these little mechanics and elements come together nicely to offer something different in each level. There’s compelling variety in level design and stealth situations and the level of challenge can be satisfying, encouraging you to stop and observe the environments and enemy patterns. The controls are simple and effective, and feature a nifty mechanic which allows you to have a peek at what lies around the corner.
The game’s twelve levels are rather short, each lasting a couple of minutes at most, and so Light can easily be completed in a single sitting. That said, the real appeal is being able to speedrun through the levels, minimizing casualties, all to maximize your score in record time. It’s a short and fun experience that is meant to be enjoyed multiple times, and Light certainly has the right appeal to encourage subsequent revisits.
Despite the simplistic appearance, the visuals of Light are actually stylized and pretty. In particular, the neon lighting effects really complement the style of game nicely, which overall has this sophisticated ambiance about it. The soundtrack really shines, characterized by catchy techno synth beats and some chilled out keyboard compositions to really invoke the feeling of an espionage thriller. It’s interesting how the stylized visuals and haunting soundtrack come together in such a way that you almost forget you’re playing with pixels.
Light appears to stick with the bare minimum at first glance, but the slick presentation, stylized visuals and memorable music come together to create a fun and pure stealth action game. While it is a bit on the short and easy side, there’s incentive to revisit levels in order to learn more effective and efficient means of completing them. Light is a purely gameplay driven experience emphasizing high scores, and in a way it’s a refreshing alternative to all the glitz and glamour of modern stealth action games. By sticking to the fundamental basics of an enjoyable stealth gaming experience, Light represents an exemplar blueprint for the genre.