2017 has been a fantastic year for video games so far. Only a few months in and we’ve seen the releases of Resident Evil 7, Yakuza 0, Nioh, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nier: Automata and Mass Effect Andromeda. As amazing as that lineup of games is, it’s also quite daunting. Even with the best intentions there is no amount of free time that will allow me to 100% half of that list of games, let alone the amount of patience needed for the repetition. Most of those games are large sprawling open-worlds with tough enemies, insane amounts of loot and dozens of side-quests. With the amount of similarities between that list of games it can feel demotivating to jump from one to another, or worse, play many of them at the same time. luckily in comes Linelight.
A small indy puzzle game developed by My Dog Zorro. Linelight is a wonderfully crafted passive challenge. Controlled using only one analog stick on the PS4 and equipped with a pleasant soundtrack, the player is challenged with navigating a little glowing line through a set of circuit-inspired puzzles. Timing your movements with rotating platforms or using the a.i. routines of other lines are the key to successfully completing each puzzle. Some puzzles force players to repeat patterns or time their movements with the a.i. to retrieve colored keys that open doorways. Others require the player to influence an a.i’s routine so that they destroy a blocked path or get caught in a small loop away from the player.
Never annoying or head scratching, each puzzle simply challenges you to pay attention to your movements. Every new puzzle uses lessons learnt from previous successes and ups the ante ever so slightly, never feeling like the difficulty suddenly increases tenfold. I found myself naturally completing puzzles with very little thought. That’s not a knock on the difficulty but rather a compliment to the success of slowly teaching the player the rules of the game and adding a wrinkle to each new challenge. Failure simply restarts the player at the most recent puzzle with no load times.
Linelight uses minimalism in all aspects. Visually it never feels messy or overwhelming. Using light and dark to keep the players focus on the route of each puzzle and intentionally drawing the players eyes to enemies or keys. The soundtrack is passive but pleasant. It simply sets the mood for each world and it’s set of levels. Both help set the tone of the journey to completing each new world.
Linelight is the type of game that feels like a great pallet cleanser. In the busy early stages of 2017 Linelight can help break the frustration of a bad day or a tough boss in Zelda (looking at you Silver Lynel). It never overstays its welcome and never punishes the player for failing a puzzle. If anything Linelight is at its best when you just want to relax and enjoy a small challenge or turn a bad day into a pleasant one.