By Ishaan . February 18, 2009 . 9:06am
LIT is an interesting experiment…one that shows a lot of potential, most of which is not fulfilled in its current state. However, that doesn’t stop it from being both an entertaining and addicting game.
Right from the start, LIT grabs your attention. The artwork on the title screen is beautiful, stylish and reminiscent of some of the better manhwa art I’ve seen. Unfortunately, the game itself looks nothing like this. More on this in a bit.
The basic premise of LIT is this: highschool jock Jake and his girlfriend Rachael are trapped in a school building filled with monsters that reside in the darkness. Jake has to work his way through the different classrooms, find Rachael, and get both their butts out of the school. The game doesn’t explain any of this to you, choosing instead, to drop you straight into the first classroom and let you figure things out for yourself along the way.
Here’s a rundown of how the game works: Jake can tread on areas that are lit and gets devoured by monsters if he steps into an area that isn’t. You start each level in a corner of a classroom, and it’s up to you to figure out how to light up your surroundings so you can make your way to the exit at the other end. The analog stick on the nunchuk is used to move, while the B button on the Wii remote is used to switch between items. The A button allows you to use these items.
You can’t see anything in areas that aren’t lit up. Think of it like shroud, with the difference being that shroud disappears the closer you get to it, while the shadowy areas in LIT need to be lit up. Items like a catapult to break windows, lamps and monitors to light up a small area, and flares that allow you to create a “safe spot” are scattered throughout every classroom. In addition to the regular lights, there are also lights that pan back and forth in an arc. Turning on too many lights in a classroom short-circuits the entire class, causing you to restart, so you need to be mindful of the light metre at the top of the screen. You need to make your way to these lights sequentially and turn them on in order to light up a path to the exit without dying. Finally, Jake’s flashlight – controlled using the pointer – can be used to shed some light on the dark areas so you can plan your next move.
While the puzzles are highly addicting, there’s a lot of trial-and-error involved. Each classroom seems to have a specific solution, and sometimes it isn’t very clear what exactly you need to do, especially when certain items are hidden just out of reach in areas covered by shadows. It isn’t very obvious whether or not you can use these items because sometimes you die as soon as you set foot in a shadowy area, and sometimes you’re able to inch just close enough to use the item in it, depending on what angle you approach from. And to make matters worse, you’ll constantly find yourself accidentally switching lights off just because you happened to be standing to close to them while trying to use an item. To the game’s credit, restarting a level is instantaneous, so it never gets too frustrating because you’re only seconds away from trying again.
And here’s where some of the game’s presentation flaws are clearly visible: in its execution. LIT had the potential to be so much more than what it currently is. It could have been an atmospheric, genuinely creepy blend of survival horror and puzzle elements. Instead, it’s just an addicting puzzle game with a unique premise. Not that there’s anything wrong this – it’s just wasted potential is all. It’ll make you wish WayForward had spent a little more time on polishing the final game and its presentation instead of rushing it out the door.
Jake (pictured above and to the right) looks bland and boring – nothing like the concept art done for the game by Singaporean comic artist Foo Swee Chin. The shadowy “fog” in the game often clips through the floor and looks rather sloppy. The beam from Jake’s flashlight seems to be a texture rather than an actual lightsource, which would have worked wonders for the game. Rachael – who calls you up every now and then to tell you how she’s doing – sounds like she’s more bored than she is scared. Instead of actually caring about saving your girlfriend, you’ll often find yourself hanging up on her phone calls.
The music on the other hand, is generally good. Certain tracks do a great job emphasizing the “horror” aspect of the game, while others don’t stand out as much. Unfortunately, failing a level causes the music for that level to start over as well, pulling you out of any sense of immersion the haunting track might have created.
Despite its flaws, LIT is well worth checking out. At its core, it’s addicting and entertaining – and really, that’s what videogames are about. The puzzles are fun to figure out, the boss fights every few levels do a good job of adding variety to the gameplay, and compared to other titles on downloadable services, LIT can hold its own.
Food for thought:
1. Even a low-budget game with a decent narrative can create a real sense of immersion. Fleshing out the relationship between Jake and Rachael could have made for some excellent character and story development.
2. While adding too many lights to a scene can jack up the file size of an environment, adding a point light to Jake’s torch would have made the torch more effective and made each individual classroom look nicer. Making the shadows in the dark areas look less sharp would have helped, too.