Flood of Light (Switch eShop) Review
The size and success of the Switch platform has resulted in a myriad of content flooding the eShop. This has allowed small titles with unique ideas to find a new audience. The PC port of Flood of Light is one such title, bringing an intriguing core mechanic and striking art style with the hopes of rising from the depths of the weekly release charts and finding a home on your Nintendo Switch.
Flood of Light sees you take control of a prophesied young girl in a flooded city that has been completely evacuated, with the exception of a number of sentient computers. There has been an unrelenting downpour of rain — and only you can clear the skies, lower the water level and restore the city to what it once was by activating eight pillars of light. The story is told in dribs and drabs by the computer robots throughout the city and some email terminals on each level, but it’s mostly a minor distraction which is hard to get invested in or even make much sense of for the majority of the game.
The story does just enough to provide some basic context to the puzzles that lie before you. Each area you venture through contains a number of lamps and orbs of light, and you’ll be tasked with moving the orbs of yellow light to activate a special pedestal, power an elevator switch, or open a door. Your character has the ability to waltz in like Albus Dumbledore on Privet Drive, absorbing the light from nearby lamps and redistributing them to other lamps in the area within your reach. The challenge arises from the need to chain a path of light to reach further away lamps, and cleverly using adjacent lamps to split your stash of light orbs to avoid sending them all to a faraway lamp where they can no longer be retrieved.
It’s a deceptively simple mechanic that quickly layers on complexity as you progress. The game eases you in as you gain an understanding of how to think each room through, but adds new elements at a steady pace. Before long you will be dealing with light receptacles on rotating wheels, moving platforms and switches that need to be activated to move lamps around the room. The middle third of the game settles into a great rhythm where the difficulty level and the satisfaction you get from completing them are spot on.
The back end of the game adds in blue lights that can go underwater but will turn any yellow lights to blue when held together, which can make life tricky when you have a two pedestals that each need activating by a different colour light. The final two levels also add in the ability to use a light orb to float a lantern into the sky as a new lamp, opening up a raft of new challenges and requiring you to adapt to an entirely new way of thinking.
It’s unfortunately at this point where the solutions to these puzzles can become incredibly difficult to decipher. There’s so many variables and moving pieces that finding the solution can become an exercise in frustration. The game does a commendable job of creating a relaxing yet challenging set of puzzles until these late stages, so it’s a shame the balance comes somewhat undone towards the end.
The play time clocks in at around 5-7 hours, though your mileage may vary significantly depending on how quickly you can think your way through each room. For those particularly adept to the game’s brand of puzzles, there are some additional challenges to be found. Scattered throughout the world are additional special lamps called Wicks, which task you with completing the area with those lamps still lit. Doing so requires some extremely clever thinking, and will reward you with a secret ending if you can manage light them all along with achieving some other simpler goals on your way towards an S-rank for that level.
You may end up spending a lot of time in each room attempting to find the perfect solution but in doing so it allows plenty of time to soak in the exquisite artwork on display. Flood of Light features a minimalist yet distinct art style that perfectly matches the sombre mood of the unfolding events. Blues, greys and blacks contrast beautifully with sprinklings of bold colours in key areas, and the thematic impact as you restore light to each area really pops and nicely ties into the game’s overall theme.
The soundtrack is equally strong, with simple melancholy piano arrangements providing the perfect evocative ambience to accompany your adventure. Perhaps a little more variety in terms of both the visuals and soundtrack wouldn’t have gone astray, as both can become a little repetitive as the game progresses, but it’s hard to fault what is on offer in the presentation department.
The same can’t be said for the game as a whole, which features a number of issues you don’t normally encounter in final game releases these days. The game features several spelling and grammar mistakes, and the music in the main hub area skips and stutters. It’s a shame that a slight lack of polish detracts from what is otherwise a strong overall package.
There’s also no denying that the control setup is definitely more suited to a mouse and keyboard set up. Using the right analogue stick to control an on-screen curser that directs the light is serviceable but a little fiddly. The touch screen can be used in handheld mode for this, but the function to absorb light is only possible with the Y button so having your right hand hovering over the touch screen doesn’t really work.
Flood of Light is a unique and challenging puzzle game with that does a great job of getting your grey matter working. For the most part it strikes a great balance between difficulty and satisfaction, and runs for the perfect length to make the most of the ideas on offer. Some minor quibbles slightly dampen what is otherwise a strong overall package, but the interesting core puzzle mechanic and stunning artwork make a trip through this submerged city worth your time.
+ Fresh and unique puzzle mechanics
+ Visually striking
- Severe difficulty spike late in the game
- Lack of polish