One of the things I love about video gaming is that people sometimes forget that the most intense (and fun) games are the ones that have the simplest of concepts and mechanics. Yes, there are sprawling epics that test your mettle in multiple venues, but also, there are ones that test you in one faculty, and do it very well, This is the case with Archaica: The Path Of Light, which is available now on Steam.
The game is a mix of styles in some ways. On one hand, the story is about you, the Chosen One, who must walk the Path of Light in order to save the world. However, you aren’t fighting monsters, or leveling up to boost your skills. Instead, you’re solving a series of very challenging puzzles to direct light towards certain places, al the while learning more about the world around you.
I’ll admit right off that the story of the game isn’t the best. It’s told in a very mysterious manner, and what’s more, the way you’re told it is by finding tablets scattered throughout the level. But, you don’t have to find them all to get through the level, meaning, you could miss a key part of the history of the world if you don’t look for them all. Now sure, finding them isn’t time-consuming technically, but if you can’t spot them, it will take up time that could be spent trying to figure out the puzzles.
What’s more, for all the darkness and death that the story gives, it’s not exactly one that’s reflected in the gameplay. By that, I mean you can take however long you want to beat the game, and the story will end the same way. If you’re trying to solve the world…shouldn’t you be on a time limit? Finally, some people may not like the wordplay that is used to describe the story. If you like lore style stories that you can get in books like Lord of the Rings, you might dig it, if you’re looking for something more on the nose? It won’t be for you.
However, the gameplay is hands-down the best part of the game. Its use of simple mechanics involving beams of light and mirrors is fantastically done. You might think that there’s not a lot of variety in doing such a thing, but once you see the worlds you’re in, and the various ways the levels are laid out before you, you’ll see exactly what I mean when I say there’s a lot of variety.
For example, at the beginning, you’ll have simple reflector mirrors to bounce the laser lights off of. And you have to rotate them a certain way to make it all stick and go where you need to. But then, as placement and guidance become harder to do, you’ll get items that’ll send light in two different directions, items that will enhance the light so it can go farther in a certain direction to let other reflectors do their jobs, and even ones that’ll alter the colors of the lasers so that the right colors go into the right orbs or stones to set off the right reaction.
Make no mistake, this game is difficult, I play puzzle games, and even I was needing help at times. Thankfully, along with the “lore stones” there are other stones that you can find to unlock hints. How these particular hints work is that you’ll highlight an area on the map, and the game will tell you if an item is to be placed in a spot on that section. But, what you place, and how to face it is still up to you to find out. As if that wasn’t enough, the number of hints you get are dependant on the keystones you find for it. If you don’t get them all, your hints will be limited, and if you do get them all, you will sometimes have to wait for the hints to “recharge” before being used again.
All of this adds to the gameplay in my opinion, as no one wants puzzles to be “given” to them, you want to think it through, and while hints are great, they should be a last resort of sorts. And Archaica: The Path Of Light does exactly that.
There are multiple worlds to go through, and as you would expect from a puzzle game, it gets harder as you go through. The levels aren’t the most graphically stunning things in the world, but they’re good enough, And besides, the power of the game lies in its puzzle gameplay, it doesn’t need to be the prettiest thing in the world.
All in all, Archaica: The Path Of Light is a great puzzle game, it does falter in some areas, but if you’re looking for a challenging gameplay experience, you’re going to find one here. The game is available now on Steam.