How about a 2D platformer, where the platform follows you, and is simply there whenever you needed it? That’s the heart of Light Fall, the inaugural effort from Bishop Games, where you don’t need to look before you leap, because wherever you go, you’ll have a place to land.
When fledgling developer Bishop Games set out to put their own stamp on the 2D platformer genre, they started by drawing inspiration from Easter Island. They wanted a game that would convey a sense of mystery to the player, and tell a story of something hidden and lost. For mechanics, they found kinship with Ori and the Blind Forest and the classically difficult Super Meat Boy, but with their own unique twist.
Light Fall takes place in the world of Numbra, where darkness has held sway for centuries. But now, something has happened, and light has begun leaking into the world. A village has disappeared, strange, dangerous crystals are suddenly forming, and the infrastructure of the environment is slowly crumbling. With a wise, but cranky, old owl alternately guiding and snarking on your progress, you guide your character through four very distinct environments, each with their own color palette.
The PAX demo that I was shown uses the first of these four worlds. The core mechanic that sets Light Fall apart from other platformers is that The Boy whom you control is able to summon his own platform at will. Imagine a Mario game where rather than jumping from block to block, Mario could simply create a block that would appear exactly where he needed to land. This was the mechanic I started having difficulty trusting, until I got became confident that it would, in fact, always be right where I needed it.
Over the course of the first world, your block’s other powers are introduced: Movement – used to block lasers and other environmental obstacles, and Smashing – used to clear breakable obstacles. The block is also used in a number of special environmental puzzles, where it serves special functions like being a key, or the paddlewheel for a boat.
I found the controls to be crisp and accurate, and placing the box quickly became instinctive. Players are able to place the box four times in the air before needing to land on solid ground, and that is reflected by a triangle on the box that loses sides during each use. It would have been nice to have that fact, and the fact that box movement can be quick-cancelled, explicitly called out in the tutorial, rather than leaving to the player to figure out.
In addition to the story mode, where checkpoints are plentiful, and experimentation with the environment encouraged, Bishop Games also promised a Speedrun mode, where each level is limited to a single checkpoint, plus online leaderboards. I look forward to seeing what kind of crazy speed runs the community finds to pull off with this game.
Light Fall is planned for a Q2 release on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, and possibly elsewhere.