Sometimes looks can be deceiving. Not this time, though.
What you see here is pretty much what you get: a simple little game with ok puzzles and a great aesthetic. The puzzles are mostly of the move-platforms-to-create-paths and reflect-light-beams-with-mirrors varieties. Once in a while you push a block around or evade a monster. So not exactly revolutionary, to say the least.
As for the looks, it’s hard to miss with black and white, huh? A zillion film students can’t be wrong.
To the extent that artsy monochrome has become a cliche, it’s because it works. It lets you play around with light and shadow in an elemental way that creates a dramatic impact all on its own. Familiar things suddenly stand out in sharper relief, and the commonplace takes on an otherworldly aspect that catches your eye in fresh ways.
This style leads you to believe they’re saying something deep here, and you do get the sense that they want us to look beneath the surface. In fact, they pretty much say so in the store description; but if there’s something there besides the obvious, I’m not seeing it.
Ok, darkness = bad; light = good. I’m with you so far. Anyway, I’ve got to go with the side that doesn’t kill me and make me reload every time I run into it.
You could extrapolate that Manichaean principle as far as you want, I guess, to yourself, the universe and everything in between; but all it really amounts to is another Rorschach test, like Burning Daylight except with puzzles that break up the pace, the occasional death and no penises. They provide a few symbolic raw materials, but for their part don’t use them to say anything meaningful.
Well, the white triangle perpetually leading you out of darkness is pretty suggestive.
Otherwise, it’s a very static experience. Sure, the puzzles get more complex as you go along, but there’s no real progression to the levels, character or atmosphere–like you see in Limbo or RiME or NaissanceE, for example–to make it scary, or sad, or even especially awe-inspiring on a gut level. It looks neat, and that’s about it.
They say it’s a personal journey, but all I learned about myself is that I’m not very stealthy, which I already knew.