March 23, 2011

Studio WallJump’s elegant WiiWare offering Liight i

s an abstract puzzle game that tasks you with illuminating various colored posts with a selection of colored light cones. Since you only have the three primary colors of light (red, green, and blue) at your disposal, you will have to overlap the areas of illumination in order to satisfy the yellow (red + green), cyan (green + blue), magenta (blue + red), and white (all three) posts. Posts that are lit up by the wrong color(s) will let you know by giving off a halo of the offending color(s), while satisfied posts light up with a healthy glow. Further complicating matters is the fact that you can’t just place the cones anywhere; some spots of most maps lack a floor, and others have raised blocks that obstruct your glows. Finally, there are also black posts that must remain in the dark in order to successfully solve a given puzzle.

The main mode in Liight is “Solve” mode, which contains 100 puzzles broken down into four 25-puzzle difficulty levels. The beginner levels give you the basics, without too many complications. Medium levels introduce spinners that rotate certain posts until you have them where you need them to be as well as split posts that put out two colors in smaller arcs than the normal single-colored posts. Hard and Expert levels don’t introduce any new tricks, just devious post placements that will require you to place your light posts with pinpoint precision.

Controls to do so are simple. Placing the cursor over a cone and holding A allows you to drag it and put it where you want (more or less); this isn’t quite as accurate as it sometimes needs to be, which will result in some frustrating repetition as placements that were legal while you were holding the button suddenly become illegal when you release it. Holding B allows you to twist the Remote to turn the cone until it’s pointing in the desired direction; you will often need to “dial in” your beams carefully in order to solve puzzles. You can use the buttons separately or simultaneously, whichever is more convenient for your playing style, as there are no time limits in “Solve” mode.

Time is more pressing in the other main mode, “Endless”. In this mode you have one cone of each color and have to shine the correct light(s) on randomly-generated posts until they vanish; the posts have a visible timer on them that indicates how much longer they need to be lit up before they are scored. “Endless” mode suffers  from the somewhat imprecise controls and the incredibly precise limits on your cones’ areas of illumination, but since it isn’t the main attraction its flaws are mostly forgivable. The other modes are “Create” and “Send”; the former allows you to make you own “Solve” puzzles, and the latter lets you send them to Wii friends. 

The strategy in Liight is straightforward on most levels. You only get a certain number of cones, so the first order of business is often figuring out which ones must used to cover certain posts. Once you have that down the rest usually falls into place, but environmental hazards and/or particularly tricky posts will sometimes require rethinking. It’s not much of a brain-burner once you get used to it, but it’s still a pleasant challenge that will keep you busy for a few hours.

Visually, Liight puts all of its focus on the lighting effects, as one might expect. They’re nothing special, but they do what they have to do. Much more effort was put into the aural components, surprisingly. Every stage has nothing but the yawning sound of an endless void as background music initially; as posts are lit up, they emit additional layers of techno-like music that add up to a groovy beat once things get rolling. Amusingly, lit black posts emit a screeching feedback that will seriously put a damper on your groove until you correct the problem.

Liight will only set you back 500 Wii points ($5) for 100 premade “Solve” stages and the opportunity to make your own and trade them with friends (plus “Endless” mode, I guess). That makes it an easy recommendation. Puzzle fans should definitely pick it up, and anyone else who thinks the concept sounds interesting won’t be wasting too much money to give it a try. 

Pros: Simple but elegant puzzle design; groovy sound effects; bargain price

Cons: Cone placement can be finicky at times

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.