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A Misguided Sci-fi Adventure Masquerading as an Ethical Dilemma , August 6, 2010
I wanted to like this game, I really, really did. It started out well-enough, with a drunken man looking for his lost son. There were elements of raw emotion and philosophy, good writing and okay puzzles. All in all, it promised not to be a bad game. I solved the first puzzle with ease and felt a jolt of anticipation to see the story's continuation. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.
The game has three difficulties and I played it on the default one, which is medium. So, I expected the puzzles not to be overly hard. However, when the difficulty calls itself medium, I expect medium. What I got was painfully easy. But I got over that, since I wasn't really playing this game for the puzzles. I wanted to find out how it ended, because it actually intrigued me. The first few scenes promised the PC wrestling with morality and the ABOUT section warns the player of graphic material. So, I was prepared for some disturbing stuff.
The next scene did get pretty disturbing. However, it was only physically so. Mentally and emotionally, it felt dry. I would have liked to see some more depth in the writing. The player is presented with ethical dilemmas, in which they don't actually have any say. There appears to be only one answer to each dilemma that will move you forward. Light up deals with concepts like free will and memory, violence (in some descriptions, hinted to be of a sexual nature) and social hierarchy. These are serious topics, deserving of serious thought and better implementation. However, it seemed as if the author took up a bigger chunk of philosophy than they were prepared to work with.
The writing had its highs and lows, including some grammatical and spelling errors. The puzzles did not get any harder (even though the ABOUT section promised that they would). There were some glitchy puzzles and descriptions (presumably due to the limitations of ADRIFT). There were also errors that obviously resulted out of plain negligence on the author's part. (Spoiler - click to show)At one point, examining the chains results in a response stating that the chains are not there. However, you are still able to break them. But, I overlooked that at first, because I was still excited to see how the game would progress. Stupid of me.
Things quickly took a very sci-fi turn. What I presumed to be a bleak foray into the world of ethics and morality turned into hack-and-slash other-worldly linearity. The author obviously took some time to develop a back-story for this other world, but I simply did not like it. Too many things were left unsaid and too many issues were not dealt with extensively enough. The game became terribly linear and then, there was an entire episode of pure battle. A battle system complete with health points and a weapon which you had to pick up every time you used it. I must have grit my teeth a few times as I suffered through that particular chapter.
And then came the end - the end which I had been waiting for throughout the whole game... The end by no means lived up to all the build-up leading to it. I found it to be extremely unsatisfactory, even though most of my questions were answered. Overall it was a let-down for me. It was as if the author came up with a great concept for a sci-fi world, but needed a way to work an adventure into it. So, they slapped together a misguided man looking for his son and some surreal, little elements. Light up did not feel complete to me and frankly, I found it to be a waste of my time.