It’s tough to review a game that’s only distinguishable by the pieces it borrows from its contemporaries. I don’t mean to simply say that Light brings nothing new to the table, but that it actively feels like a collage of other games stitched together in the hopes of success by association.
Whether it’s aping Hotline Miami’s style, Monaco’s varied action stealth design, or Gunpoint hacking interface, I could barely make out what exactly Light itself was under the influx of familiarity. Perhaps I’d have been at least partially OK with that had Light managed to match the quality of its inspiration, but the distressing blankness and ineptitude it presents itself with makes it hard to accept it as even a rudimentary clone.
What’s more, Light seems to have no idea itself what it wants to do, and consistently places bets into the areas it’s weakest. The skeleton of a plot attempting to give context to a collection of squares is played out and terribly structured, yet more often than not it’s placed at the forefront of the game and is usually your only sense of motivation within a level. Without it there’s no setting or continuity to anything you do, but with it you’re stuck with a mess of unexplained motives and hazy details on some elaborate corporate plot that apparently justifies you mass murdering its security personnel.
Mechanically, Light is somehow in even greater disarray. In an era where stealth games are more impressive and dynamic than ever, Light is an embarrassment of shoddy AI and minimal depth. Though you need only avoid your enemies vision cones, audial awareness having missed the cut completely, Light still manages to become confusing and frustrating through the combination of horrendous controls and an unclear aesthetic.
Your character controls as if he’s walking through an ice rink, sliding around clumsily and allowing little room for precise control or quick reflexes. If you screw up your path you’re almost certainly dead, unless you somehow can maneuver yourself next to an enemy and kill them first, a task sufficiently complicated by randomly clipping on the environment while hoping the controls don’t spazz out completely.
Most times I was caught however were do to never having seen the enemy in my path at all. With the entire game rendered in shades of blue and different light sources being impossible to distinguish from each other, enemy view cones often snuck up on me having blended into the background or somehow glimpse me through a wall I didn’t realize was actually a window. Somehow for as simple as everything about Light is, it finds ways to fabricate difficulty spikes by making everything as dysfunctional as possible, yet always with a complete lack of self-awareness.
Having run through the Light in under an hour, I’m rather surprised I’ve even managed to even write this much about a game that’s nothing if not hollow. For as great as the games Light heavily borrows from may be, its only unique contribution is a less sophisticated and functional amalgamation of their parts. As far as food analogies are concerned, Light is asking you to settle for spoiled lunch meat, as if you haven’t already seen the mountain of steak nearby.