(WiiWare)

Liight (WiiWare)

Game Review

Liight Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Iit's veery goood!

Announced as it was all the way back in 2008, gamers can be forgiven for suspecting that Liight might, like so much vapourware before it, never have graced our Wii consoles. But this week, the long-awaited and oft-discussed game finally got its chance to shine.

The good news is that the extended development time actually seemed to have done the game some favours (unlike a few others we could name). The presentation is smooth, slick, and uncommonly impressive for a WiiWare title. The effort was obviously made by Studio Walljump to get everything just right, from the responsiveness of the motion controls to the way the lighting effects react when you move the lamps around to the layered music that builds (or retreats) depending upon how near you are to completing the puzzle.

As a package it's tough to fault it. A lesser developer would have settled upon the central concept of the game (which is admittedly a great one) and hoped that uniqueness would carry the title on its own. It's refreshing to find that for Studio Walljump "good enough" just wasn't good enough.

Liight is a puzzle game that, at its core, is about positioning coloured lamps so that they shine on similarly-coloured targets: light them all up at once, and the level ends. It's precisely the kind of deceptively simple concept that has defined the truly great puzzle games of the past, and Liight does its best to keep pace with them all.

Of course, shining lights on targets wouldn't make for very exciting gameplay, so it's no surprise that the game complicates itself rather quickly. Colours must be combined to shine on targets for which there is no corresponding lamp, obstacles can either help or hinder you in directing the light depending upon how you think to use them, and there are even static generators that you'll have to avoid hitting with light at all.

On top of all this, most levels contain special tiles upon which lamps cannot be placed, or which will block out any light at all. There's typically a lot to keep in mind while solving your way through the 100 puzzles included with the game, and it can give your brain a pretty rewarding workout.

The controls are simple: pointing at the screen, you use the A button to pick up a lamp and hold B while turning the Wii Remote to rotate it. Releasing A will drop the lamp. It couldn't be simpler, and, as mentioned above, the developers obviously invested a lot of time in getting the motion controls to "feel" right, which lower-budget games don't always manage. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that the game sometimes wouldn't read our twists as smoothly as we would have liked, but over the years we've learned that that's more an issue with the reliability of the Wii Remote itself than anything a developer can help, and the specific design of this game never let it become problematic.

The puzzles are untimed, meaning that you only have to concentrate on the actual task at hand. You will not fail for taking too long, and you will not receive any bonus for going quickly. The game only wants you to solve the puzzle, and it will wait patiently for you to finish, however long it takes.

In fact, this lack of a timer (or a score) conspires with the cosy visuals and hypnotically cycling pulses that constitute the music to turn Liight into a pretty relaxing experience. Working with the lamps and rearranging them just so has a pleasant, soothing effect on the player, and it just might be the perfect game for somebody who wants to play something of substance without being overwhelmed by chaos and split-second decision making.

The 100 levels are broken down into four groups of 25, each group representing a different difficulty level. The easiest levels serve mainly as tutorials and won't offer as much challenge as they will quiet instruction, but there's something inherently pacifying about just manipulating the lamps in the first place, and boredom won't have any chance to set in before the game starts throwing curve balls your way.

In addition to the 100 levels that constitute Liight's main puzzle mode, you will also be able to create your own puzzles with a user-friendly construction tool, and exchange them with friends in your address book. This feature goes a long way toward extending the life of the game, provided you have friends who purchased it as well. We thought the difficulty of the puzzles included in the game was pretty much perfect, but for anyone who desires even more of a challenge, this will be the place to find it.

There is also a Nonstop mode in which the goal is to score as many points as possible before you fail. It'll find you frantically shifting and rotating lamps to illuminate targets that appear and disappear all over the board, and it offers a significant departure in that respect from the rest of the game.

Unfortunately, Liight does have a few issues. There's nothing that should turn anyone away completely, but a few things are still worth bringing up.

The game is sometimes picky about just how much light needs to be shined on a target before it activates. At times we thought we completed a level, only to see that one target was not reacting to the light shined on it. By adjusting the lamp in question slightly, it activated. Since many puzzles require you to just barely catch targets by the outer limit of a lamp's light, it's sometimes a little frustrating for that limit to be so hazily defined.

Also, the static generators can be borderline maddening. It's one thing to include an object that can't have any light shined on it, but it's another to make it emit continuous irritating static the entire time it is lit. On some levels they are easy enough to avoid, but as the game gets more difficult, the static targets are harder to stay away from. The noise they generate interferes so greatly with the enjoyability of the game that players are likely to prioritise shutting them up, worrying about a solution to the puzzle later.

The music is pretty great, and the decision to layer it as the player gets closer to solving the puzzle is a clever one. Sadly, the "completed" songs are never heard until the puzzle is solved, at which point the prompt appears to move on to the next puzzle. While the player can elect to sit still at the prompt and listen to the finished tune for a while, the game itself will always be played to an incomplete sonic backdrop. Take that as a compliment, Studio Walljump; we wouldn't be complaining if the music wasn't so pleasant to begin with.

Finally, we felt that Nonstop mode came across as a bit of a missed opportunity. The urgently timed gameplay just didn't gel with the concept of Liight as a whole. Its inclusion isn't a problem (you're never forced to play it), but it is worth mentioning just how incongruous it can feel when gauged against the rest of the package.

Fortunately, though any issues with the game were minor, and are far outweighed by the absorbing, impressive gamplay experience offered by Liight as a whole. We don't always see such great care invested in the construction of a game, and so when we do, it stands out.

Conclusion

Those who enjoy meditative, slower-paced puzzles free of failures and time penalties will find their time with Liight very well spent, but those who prefer faster, more urgently challenging gameplay might be less impressed. Having said that, for the very fair price, Liight may still be worth the risk. The unique dynamism involved in solving these puzzles gives Liight a distinct identity, and the excellent aural and visual package rewards the player for simply spending time with the game. It takes a lot for a puzzler to stand out on a service packed with them, but Liight manages to shine brightly all the same.

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User Comments (38)

accc

#4

accc said:

"We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that the game sometimes wouldn't read our twists as smoothly as we would have liked, but over the years we've learned that that's more an issue with the reliability of the Wii Remote itself than anything a developer can help, and the specific design of this game never let it become problematic."

WTF?!?! The accelerometers in the Wii remote perfectly measure the tilt angle at any given time. If they didn't, then games like Kororinpa wouldn't be possible. I didn't notice any issues with Liight's implementation either. I swear, some people just like to complain about motion controls even when they know full well that there's nothing wrong with them.

Kid_A

#5

Kid_A said:

500 points? DANG br0 I DOWNLOADZ LEGIT NOW!

@accc

Yes here at Nintendo Life we're always looking at ways to bash Nintendo. :p

accc

#6

accc said:

A lot of people who're Nintendo fans still like to bash motion controls for no reason. If you want to see that Phillip's claim that the Remote can't detect tilt smoothly is plainly and obviously wrong, all you have to do is go into the Wii menu and tilt the remote around while pointing at the screen.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#7

Philip_J_Reed said:

It's not that it can't, it's that it doesn't always read them with perfect smoothness. Glad I could be of service! :D

bboy2970

#8

bboy2970 said:

@Chicken: Allow me to turn your attention to the flawless smoothness of the turning controls in Lilt Line ;) Its not that it can't, it just isn't used to its full potential often. Although, I felt the controls in Liight were basically perfect and never had an un-read turn of the wrist so this is more just a matter of defending the Wii Remote for me :D

accc

#9

accc said:

@Chicken: Maybe it's the way you're wording things, but it seems like you don't understand how the accelerometers actually work. They read the position of the remote, and use the value of these coordinates to determine the angle at which the remote is tilted, a fixed number of times per second. From what you wrote it seems like you think the remote randomly decides to stop working at times, which clearly isn't the case. Now granted, if you were to say toss the remote into the air so that it twirls around several times before landing, then the refresh rate of the accelerometers might not be sufficient to measure the tilt angle smoothly, but for applications in actual games the accerometers read the position fast enough to determine the tilt angle with an extremely high degree of accuracy at all times, even in games like Kororinpa and Bit.trip where you have to tilt the remote back and forth really fast. Hope this helps! :)

James

#10

James said:

Nothing is 100% perfect 100% of the time, even the Wii Remote's motion sensing capabilities!

accc

#12

accc said:

That small percentage of the time that it doesn't work perfectly is usually attributable to user error, though :p

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#13

Philip_J_Reed said:

"From what you wrote it seems like you think the remote randomly decides to stop working at times, which clearly isn't the case."

It's also not what's stated in the review. The review simply states that the twisting isn't always read as smoothly as we would have liked. At no point do we suggest at all that it stops working or works incorrectly...just that its smoothness isn't always up to snuff.

With that said, you've made your feelings known, accc, so there's not much point pursuing it further. I'll thank you to move on and discuss other elements of the game or review, if you're so inclined. After all, it's a great game and if you didn't have the issues described above, then so much the better for everyone!

Metal_Slime

#14

Metal_Slime said:

Nice review! So glad you liked the game! I really appreciate how much you appreciated how much time we spent play-testing and tweaking the increasing difficulty of the 100 puzzles. I’ve gotten a lot of early feedback from people who thought the initial game was too easy, but really the first 25 puzzles are there to introduce most of the core solving concepts before we throw you to the wolves. Let me add a few things...

The static targets can indeed be aggravating when you hear them for a long time, and in some cases the music itself can be too, when you're solving a complicated puzzle. You may have noticed the sound icon on the lower left of every puzzle: this toggles all music (including static!) off while you solve. Ahhhhh…

Given the random aspect of the music (the musical components of each puzzle are selected randomly every time you play) there is no real concept of a 'complete' sonic backdrop. You did notice that we let you sit on the Puzzle Solved screen as long as you like to listen to your finished puzzle, but if you really want to enjoy the musical aspect of Liight, I recommend hitting up the Create mode and just dragging more and more targets onto the board, removing the ones you don't like. I like to put some on Spinners and let them spin in and out of the light to switch tracks.

Nonstop mode is basically a second game that uses the same concepts but in a different way. 100 puzzles won't last you forever and like the review says, not everyone has friends with Liight (though I encourage you to share puzzles with everyone you know anyway!). It doesn't feel like the rest of the game on purpose, but maybe it should have been released as a sequel with more focus. Too bad, you get it for free. Unfortunately we were unable to get online leaderboards into the game, so I think maybe the mistake is not including a high score on the chart that is high enough for people to understand the full potential. For what it's worth, the high score included in the game is the highest score achieved by a player at PAX in 2009 when we showed the game (and those are his initials and we promised at PAX to keep the highest score in the game). He only played it three times or so. Studio Walljump will be promoting Liight with a Nonstop contest soon, and I hope that you all take a second look at it then, if you're not already addicted to it. I can only put it in an analogy that makes sense to gamers; you know how in Ikaruga you can either play the game just to survive, or you can play the game for score by chaining everything in 3's? It's kind of like that, except I seem to have failed to make that second layer of gameplay obvious enough to players. I'm curious what all your high scores are!

As for the rotation.... c'est la wii. The best way to cope in Liight is to grab targets using only the B trigger and twist your wrist like turning a key. This helps you easily tweak the rotation without messing up the position.

Thanks for the great review!!!

LittleIrves

#15

LittleIrves said:

@Metal Slime: "c'est la wii." Felicitations, mon chou!
Great review. I'm really intrigued by this game. I've got 1800 points. Wanted to grab a SNES game and a WiiWare, but might have to grab this and Fluidity and save my remaining C-note for a later date.

joeshabadoo

#16

joeshabadoo said:

Good review, Phil, but I would say that Liight's endless mode has more than enough to offer people looking for faster, more urgent challenge. The complex scoring system, and the strategy behind deep runs in the endless mode is quite something. Worth the price of admission alone. The puzzles help train you and expand your mindset of endless mode approaches, and the create/share is icing on the cake

TTGlider

#18

TTGlider said:

@acc "it seems like you don't understand how the accelerometers actually work. They read the position of the remote, and use the value of these coordinates to determine the angle at which the remote is tilted, a fixed number of times per second"

Sorry, I hate to beat a beat a dead horse, but you are flat out wrong. The accelerometers do not measure coodrinates. They measure acceleration in three axes. Based on inertia against a damped mass you could infer the change in orintation, but the sensor is NOT transmitting "27 degree decline in the Y axis" and tiny little sensors in consumer electronics ARE subject to some error. Much credit is due to the smoothing and interpolation of the host software for the generally good result.

kurtasbestos

#19

kurtasbestos said:

I've only put about half an hour into the game total so far, but I really liked the idea of the endless mode. I can't imagine trying to re-solve the first 100 puzzles again after I've already gone through them once, so that just leaves me with making my own puzzles and hopefully finding someone to share with, or endless mode. I played it once and beat the built-in high score, but I had a lot of fun doing it and I know I can beat my own high score, so I'll definitely try it again.

MikeyMikeMike

#20

MikeyMikeMike said:

The overview states the game is for "2" players...but I didn't see any mention of it in the review. Is that a split screen mode in "nonstop" or some kind of a co-op mode?

Metal_Slime

#21

Metal_Slime said:

I'll be straight with you guys about the Euro release.

Liight is, as we've said before, a labor of love. It cost a lot of money to make this game, and as an indie game, it’s all my own personal money. Not a lot of money for a game development budget, but a lot of money for a single person. Even if we manage to break the performance threshold... well let’s just say we're not in it for the money.

The North American version of the game required only the manual in Spanish and French, and I was lucky enough to have two friends who speak those languages natively to translate the manual. The Euro version requires that the entire game and manual be translated into 6 different languages, and that means paying a testing lab to translate it for me.... I really just can't pour more money into this game until some starts to come back out. Plus I promised Roland I'd buy him a Stun Runner machine.

Anyway, the short answer to the Euro question is: You can have it when enough North American copies sell to pay for the translation! It won't take long after that; the game is identical.

Unless we can get some volunteers going here : ) Anyone want to do some translating? I need Dutch, Italian and German still.

Mikau94

#22

Mikau94 said:

@XD375 There is no no demo available yet. It is really fun, if you have 500 Wii points, you should get it.

The motion controls have arn't really an issue, every once in a while the spin will lag, other than that it works fine.

Scribbler

#23

Scribbler said:

Fascinating. The core concept reminds me of an older Nintendo DS game called "Prism: Light the Way", and that's a good thing, because "Prism" was sorely underrated IMHO.

And really, unless the sensitivity of motion controls is a matter of life and death (one of the reasons why the endgame of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Wii version infuriated me), I think that small hiccups in the system can be easily overlooked. I for one am greatly looking forward to playing this.

Ren

#24

Ren said:

awesome! And only 500! I'm there. @metal slime: I hope you make enough to get it to Europe, congrats on the good review. This looks like a winner for everyone. Cool to see a new, stylish puzzler on WW again.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#25

Philip_J_Reed said:

@MetalSlime:
"Given the random aspect of the music (the musical components of each puzzle are selected randomly every time you play) there is no real concept of a 'complete' sonic backdrop."

Wow, I didn't know this! Well done getting random musical elements to combine in such satisfying ways. That's an accomplishment in itself; thank you for pointing it out.

"if you really want to enjoy the musical aspect of Liight, I recommend hitting up the Create mode and just dragging more and more targets onto the board, removing the ones you don't like."

Well, it looks like Create mode just became a mini sound mixer. Thanks!

nmozdzier

#26

nmozdzier said:

Hmm... This game seems a lot like Auditorium, but I liked that game, the computer version at least and I don't have a PS3, so this and Fluidity will probably be purchases.

roland

#27

roland said:

Hey guys, to everyone who's whizzed through the first 50 puzzles and is wondering if the game's going to last, I have a confession. Despite being the primary developer of the game, I was playing last night and got completely stuck on the first puzzle of expert, "Havok". Shameful, I know. But believe me, it gets harder and whatever you might think Nick is just downright evil. I will likely be giving "Havok" another go tonight. I defy you all to beat it before I do.

Looking on the bright side, at least it's still fun for me to play after 3 years of seeing it almost every night for hours at a time, right? I can hear Nick's evil laughter clear across the country.

Tethers

#28

Tethers said:

@ Metal Slime & "Unless we can get some volunteers going here : ) Anyone want to do some translating? I need Dutch, Italian and German still."

How much text is it to translate?^^

Metal_Slime

#29

Metal_Slime said:

Did you mean Havok or Hypnok? I get stuck on Hypnok.

@L.Brown: about 14 pages of manual and a fairly limited amount of in game text. If you read the manual of Liight (which you can do without purchasing it), thats the bulk of the work.

roland

#31

roland said:

Oops, you're right it's Hypnok. Sorry about that. Still stuck, by the way.

tinman

#32

tinman said:

Come on, guys and gals! German is covered, Dutch and Italian still seem to be vacant so far. Spread the word and maybe activate your passion for videogames. Let's get all languages covered! That would really help to raise the odds for a European release.

Nnooo

#33

Nnooo said:

@MetalSlime You only have to translate the manual in Europe into EFIGSD (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch) and not the whole game. Although by the sounds of it your manual has more text than your game?

Also we know some really good translators who we use and who are really familiar with the terminology etc (and not too expensive!).

@acc there are two ways you can use a Wii Remote to detect rotation. The first is by using the pointer (and is what the Wii Menu uses). In this method the camera built into the Wii Remote detects the angle of the Sensor bar as you rotate the Wii Remote. This method is very accurate but can only be used in situations where you will be pointing the Wii Remote at the screen. In this situation you can break this method of rotation by having bad lighting (ie other infra red sources) or by moving the Wii Remote out of view of the sensor bar (e.g. walking in front of the sensor bar).

The other method is to use the accelerometers. However the accelerometers only measure acceleration so if you have the Wii Remote stationary, or if you are moving them at a constant speed, then you get no acceleration (as acceleration is the change in speed). There is also a maximum threshold the accelerometers can sense so if you move the Wii Remote too fast it will register that as the max (when you could have been moving it much faster than the max). Finally when using the accelerometers to detect slow/gentle movement this can be hard as the Wii Remote detects gravity (as this is a constant source of acceleration). When you are moving it gently/slowly it can be hard to detect the difference between gravity, noise and actual movement.

Hope that helps...?

Metal_Slime

#34

Metal_Slime said:

@Nnooo thanks, that should be helpful if we don't have to translate any in-game text, though i think we'll still have to make all our error dialogs bigger for German haha!

Looks like we just need Italian now.

billy_soy

#35

billy_soy said:

We should start a sharing community for puzzle creators. I've already made a few. If you are interested, add me and post your wii code. Mine is 0433 2708 4506 6945

Love the puzzle creator! I wish users could upload them to a server and then download new ones on a whim. Not a big gripe, but I don't have many friends who like puzzle games. Great game guys and gals!

tinman

#36

tinman said:

Well, it seems that the Euro release (at least on WiiWare) isn't going to happen (due to various reasons). What a letdown for us Europeans.

Mange

#37

Mange said:

Is it a "demand" from Nintendo to include the manual in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch?

Zandaxar

#38

Zandaxar said:

It is a creative relaxing puzzle-solving experience of light and sound. Being able to make your own puzzles and share them with the creator is a nice feature. Thank you for making it:-)

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