Big Robot Ltd bring us The Light Keeps Us Safe an exploration game where the planet has been taken over by machines. Stay safe, stay alive and save yourself. Time to find a few AA batteries and journey out into the world of darkness for an early access look.
The Light Keeps Us Safe is the standard mouse and WASD format. Move around, look around, interact with objects and use your resources wisely. The premise is simple, stay alive by the clever use of light. The world has been taken over by machines that seem to have an inexplicable aversion to light. You have a torch. It was a marriage of convenience that worked out well. Keep the torch charged and in return it will keep you safe.
Instructions are forthcoming on the screen and there is a strange woman doing a voiceover, well I don’t know if she is strange, or indeed where her voice comes from. Choose your path wisely.
The machines will zap you and kill you if you get too close and they see you. Fortunately you are armed with empty glass bottles that you can throw and distract the machines. Get close enough to turn some machines off. Some machines just need to be blinded by your torch to go into hiding for a while. Some machines will just kill you. You cannot get away from them. The advice is to run, but I never escaped once after numerous attempts. Once one had seen me I just stood still and waited to die and the game to reload my last save. I have to collect machine components, but I have no idea where these are, so basically get used to death and try a different direction every time. There seems to be little skill involved. The searchlights follow random patterns so learning a sequence is out. They also turn and face you when you are in range whether they are looking your way or not. I can only assume that my character has hobnailed boots on and no concept of quiet.
I loved the concept of the game and when I read it I thought that it was a good game for me. I hate shooting zombies, so a first person skill-based non-shooter was right up my alley. The disappointment levels are so high. The scene is too dark to really see where you are going, so no planning ahead. The terrain is too rugged and often machines will come over ridges so you wouldn’t know they were there. It just turned into a huge dying simulator and getting zapped was top of the list. I played it until I wept as I really wanted it to be good. What was I doing wrong? What have the developers failed to tell me in the instructions? Games should get progressively harder as you work your way through them, average Joe needs a break so how about finding a shallow end? I know that goes against the concept of realism, but if that’s the case then make the rest of the game realistic. There was no fun to be found in this game so far, and for the entertainment industry, well that is kind of crucial.
I have no idea what I need to collect from the wilderness other than it’s machine components from looted machines. Do I have to break a machine to get it? Are there broken machines out there already that I need to find? The only thing I know is that I know nothing. Yeah, it hurt my brain as well. After an hour’s gameplay I had failed to find anything except a few much needed bandages in the trash and spent about 15 minutes of that time watching the loading screen. I ran up to machines and found nothing, I searched the area and found nothing, I even started looking around my house and didn’t find anything, well I found a much needed full beer bottle.
After a while I managed to master the art of surviving into double figures in minutes, but alas, despite a lot of searching, I never really found my purpose in life. Think I should just head back to the bunker and await death to claim me.
The Light Keeps Us Safe feels like I have just bitten into a chocolate spread sandwich only to discover it’s actually marmite. So much anticipation, so much expectation and then so much disappointment.
There is nothing technically wrong with the game, the character movement is good, the skill required when turning off some of the sentry machines is good, plus a little luck, and the environment is very realistic. All the building blocks for a good game are evident, and Big Robot Ltd have actually done a great job in creating the world in which The Light Keeps Us Safe is set. There needs to be a shallower learning curve with regards to what your character is supposed to be doing though, ease the player in gently. It’s rather like doing an English Literature exam but never having read the book. The question will be understandable, but you will have no idea how to answer it.
The Light Keeps Us Safe has darkness in abundance. Not the rock band, but a serious absence of light. Finding your way around is almost impossible as there is little in the environment to see. That said, the graphics do the job that is asked of them, to make everything dark. The machines are well constructed and look very realistic. I certainly wouldn’t go outside given the choice. The graphics are definitely one of the better aspects of the game, it looks gloriously menacing, it is clear that time has been put to good use creating the perfect environmental look for the story.
Machines buzz, electricity crackles and empty glass bottles smash. Did I forget to mention the weird voices you hear? The audio is definitely good, it adds to the atmosphere of the game and there are also audible warnings that alert you when danger is coming. You can hear your footsteps as you traverse the terrain, this audio clue will let you know if you stray off the path or into wet ground as it is very difficult to see where you are going. The Light Keeps Us Safe has definitely got this aspect right.
Big Robot Ltd are going in the right direction, but need to slow the pace down a little. The Light Keeps Us Safe needs a better description of what you are trying to do or more added to the tutorial. At the moment it’s a beautifully crafted frustration that has the potential to bring something great to the table. There is a roadmap in place, and Big Robot Ltd are on the case with regular updates and improvements. I like the look of the foundations of this game, there is huge potential for greatness, it’s definitely on my ‘one to watch’ list.