When it was time to decide what tone and theme the platformer soon to be known as Light Fall would have, the team at Bishop Games looked towards the Easter Islands. You know, with the big statues of heads and no one really knows how they got there or why they were built? They wanted to create a world that would imbue a sense of mystery for the player, and what they came up with was Umbra, a place of perpetual night. Within it, creatures of darkness and gods of incredible power live — well, the gods are going through a bit of a rough patch as you’ll learn in the first few minutes of the game, but still. You play as an equally mysterious boy who has lost his memory and is sent on an adventure to find out what’s going on in Umbra, and help stop it.
In terms of gameplay, Light Fall is a 2D platformer with a twist. The twist is that you can create your own platforms. Now, you might be thinking this completely defeats the purpose of a platformer, since it gives you the ability to save yourself if you screw up. While it’s true that you can quickly recover from some potentially nasty situations, the way in which the Shadow Core is implemented is really smart. Each level is designed with specific paths in mind — it just leaves a few crucial platforms out. Your job is to figure out where these platforms should go and put them there as you go. But you can’t just go hopping through a level laying down platforms the whole time. You can only place down three Shadow Cores before having to touch down on real ground, which recharges you immediately. This allows for strategic use of the Shadow Core, and sort of forces you to think a certain way. So catching yourself just before you’re about to die can be great, but now you’re down a platform, so you’ll have to think on your feet to get back to the action.
When playing Light Fall, or even just watching someone else play it, I could immediately tell that speed runners were going to love it. It’s fast (if you want it to be), deliberate, and has a brand new mechanic that is both interesting and fun to use. Ben Archer, a Co-Founder and the VP of Bishop Games told me that they have a speedrun mode in Light Fall where you can replay the 17 distinct levels of the game, although they will be much harder this time around. On top of that, there are ten additional levels solely for those who just want to go fast. You’ll also be able to compare your scores via the online leaderboards.
What’s great about Light Fall is that it doesn’t sacrifice story or aesthetics to favor gameplay. From the first good half hour of the game I experienced, the story seems really neat and it’s all narrated by a wise yet grumpy old owl named Styx, which gives it charm. It’s also ridiculously beautiful. From smooth animations to a background with dark color palette full of purples and blues that offset the black eeriness of the main stage. The whole concept has a ton of style, and as someone who’s not great at speedrunning, I’m glad that it caters to my story-loving self too.
Bishop Games is planning for a Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release for now, and are hoping to bring the game to the Switch as well. You can back their Kickstarter here.