Light Tracer Review (HTC Vive)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
Indie developer Oasis Games have really been more miss than hit when it comes to virtual reality, with their titles so far being a mix bag– for example Weeping Doll (read my review here). Their title Light Tracer is now available on HTC Vive, but does this stand out from the previous releases from Oasis Games?
When it comes the story of Light Tracer this is more a gathering a lore surrounding the world you are playing in. rather than taking you on story. Where it does sort of play out in an order, it’s a very brief story. However, the game isn’t trying to take you on an epic whirlwind story and for me the lore route works perfectly fine. The lore will provided you with more information relating to the Tower of Bellbatis and more importantly the Gods that are above waiting for your arrival. It will also open up a bit more information on the Princess you are guiding around the towers and about a disease that is effecting her people.
When it comes to gameplay, where you do have a number of VR plaformers available the team at Oasis Games have do something massively different for Light Tracer. As the game starts you come across the Princess that seems to be lost, and not able to find her way. Soon the both of you will be acquainted, and she places her trust in you the guide her way. This is where the many gameplay mechanics start.
At the beginning you have the basic mechanics, in one hand you have a staff with a beam of light which is used the guide the princess, then your left hand is used to interact with parts of the stages and to move your view around to get a better view of what it going on and the paths to follow. These two things are the main core mechanics of the gameplay and how you’re going to get around the towers placed in front of you, well these and that trusty jump button which is an essential part of any platformer. Then throughout the chapters/levels more is added like combat (when the Princess gets a sword), and varying elements to each type of environments the levels are based on. Meaning the game you are going to moving, dodging, jumping, fighting, leaning the enemy’s movement patterns and solving puzzles between yourself and the Princess in your control. As well as moving the Princess you are also a vital part to her traversing these towers. I have previously mentioned your interaction with objects, this is all part of the puzzle elements and you will be raising platforms, rotating parts of the stages and many other things, to help the Princess move forward.
I must warn you for the first few chapters the controls can become quite rage inducing. This is down to one slight over movement of the beam and your off the edge (in a high percentage of the cases you die) and one touch off an enemy and your dead – and sometimes the game counts on quick reactions which the controls might not let you have. But, persevere with the game and controls and you will eventually get used to them, and the games charm really will show through then. The game does come with a quite a difficulty spike as well, meaning even the hardened gamers are going to find a challenge in Light Tracer – which for some lesser hardened gamers it may cause some annoyance.
One thing that can be a godsend in helping in reduce that annoyed feeling is the game is quite generous in most cases when it comes to checkpoints throughout the stages. Yes, sometimes you will die and think to yourself what all the way back here, but in most cases you will be happy with the checkpoint system.
One of the most surprising elements of the game was learning that it includes Boss fights at the end of each chapter. The next thing that surprised me and I loved was that they are in the same ilk as the sort of Boss battles you encounter in platform greats like Crash Bandicoot, were the fight itself was also a puzzle in its own right. You will find that the bosses don’t show any sort of health bar as well, so the anxious feeling of not knowing how close they are to be defeated will linger. Again expect to die a few times as you learn how to cause damage to them and learn their attack pattern – but believe me the sense of achievement and relief you will feel as each boss falls is great.
The gameplay brings with a lot of charm, and the team have carried this on with the games presentation. The overall presentation of Light Tracer is well finished and designed perfectly for the genre of the game. Each chapter sees a change in the environment, but each environment is brought to life with bold and bright colours. They will then add background music that suits the environment you are playing in, be it the relaxing tones that they bring with the opening stages green-land to the more heavy guitar and drums for the more dangerous stages. Making sure these match makes the game that more enjoyable and immersive – and really makes for the one last try attitude, which falls hand-in-hand with the platform genre.
As previously mentioned the controls can be fiddly at the start, but they aren’t over the top or difficult when it comes to the button layout, its more just getting used to moving around the world and making sure you don’t make the Princess walk too far. The game is played with the Tracked Motion controllers, it does not include any sort of controller or keyboard/mouse support – but games premise makes it vital for the Tracked Motion controllers.
With the right hand controller you will be using the touch-pad only. This is used the activate the beam the Princess will follow by touching it and moving it to where you want her to go, and then pressing it will make her jump. When it comes to the one in your left hand, you will hold the trigger down and move the controller to move around the stage, press the touch pad to grab the objects you interact with, and the grips to reset your view. Like I said simple controls, just fiddly to use until you get used to them. Given the gameplay style you will find that Light Tracer is best played from a seated position, although it can be played from a standing position also.
When it comes to length of the games, this is all going to come down the player and their skills at puzzles and the controls. There is eight chapters overall, and it took me around four and half hours to get through them – which included some delays in the solving the puzzles. Over these four and half hours the game keeps it fresh, but introducing some new mechanics into the gameplay in each chapter. So, what is the reason to keep going back once the levels are out the way?… Well Light Tracer brings with it is costumes for the Princess, and if you want to unlock all of these be prepared for a grind. The reason for this that by the end of my first play-through I had just over 700 coins, and the most expensive costume comes in at a whopping 2500 coins alone.
Oasis Games have found their VR saving grace with Light Tracer, not only have they brought a solid puzzle platformer to VR, but one that is truly unique. Be it the beautiful presentation, the outstanding gameplay or the gruelling boss battles, there is many reasons to love this game. Where it will come with the frustrations due to the difficulty spike and the controls at first, this is easily over-looked due to what the game brings with it – it really is a game both casual and hardened gamers with find enjoyment in playing. Also coming in at the price of £11.39 ($14,99 USD) it not only stands out as one of the best VR platformers, but all at a great price.
Also available on Playstation VR
Developer: Oasis Games