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Light Up Reviews
Author: The Dominant Species (TDS)
Date: 2010
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by Sorrel

I wanted to like this game, I really, really did. It started out well-enough, with a drunken man looking for his lost son. There were elements of raw emotion and philosophy, good writing and okay puzzles. All in all, it promised not to be a bad game. I solved the first puzzle with ease and felt a jolt of anticipation to see the story's continuation. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. 

The game has three difficulties and I played it on the default one, which is medium. So, I expected the puzzles not to be overly hard. However, when the difficulty calls itself medium, I expect medium. What I got was painfully easy. But I got over that, since I wasn't really playing this game for the puzzles. I wanted to find out how it ended, because it actually intrigued me. The first few scenes promised the PC wrestling with morality and the ABOUT section warns the player of graphic material. So, I was prepared for some disturbing stuff. 

The next scene did get pretty disturbing. However, it was only physically so. Mentally and emotionally, it felt dry. I would have liked to see some more depth in the writing. The player is presented with ethical dilemmas, in which they don't actually have any say. There appears to be only one answer to each dilemma that will move you forward. Light up deals with concepts like free will and memory, violence (in some descriptions, hinted to be of a sexual nature) and social hierarchy. These are serious topics, deserving of serious thought and better implementation. However, it seemed as if the author took up a bigger chunk of philosophy than they were prepared to work with. 

The writing had its highs and lows, including some grammatical and spelling errors. The puzzles did not get any harder (even though the ABOUT section promised that they would). There were some glitchy puzzles and descriptions (presumably due to the limitations of ADRIFT). There were also errors that obviously resulted out of plain negligence on the author's part. 
(Spoiler - click to show) But, I overlooked that at first, because I was still excited to see how the game would progress. Stupid of me. 

Things quickly took a very sci-fi turn. What I presumed to be a bleak foray into the world of ethics and morality turned into hack-and-slash other-worldly linearity. The author obviously took some time to develop a back-story for this other world, but I simply did not like it. Too many things were left unsaid and too many issues were not dealt with extensively enough. The game became terribly linear and then, there was an entire episode of pure battle. A battle system complete with health points and a weapon which you had to pick up every time you used it. I must have grit my teeth a few times as I suffered through that particular chapter. 

And then came the end - the end which I had been waiting for throughout the whole game... The end by no means lived up to all the build-up leading to it. I found it to be extremely unsatisfactory, even though most of my questions were answered. Overall it was a let-down for me. It was as if the author came up with a great concept for a sci-fi world, but needed a way to work an adventure into it. So, they slapped together a misguided man looking for his son and some surreal, little elements. Light up did not feel complete to me and frankly, I found it to be a waste of my time.
 


Reviewed by Hensman Int'l

Started as a good mystery, then transitioned thorough strange, weird, to disgusting. The combat near the end was a lot of typing - shortcuts would have been preferable. I would have enjoyed it much more if the game focused on the mystery of where his son went and what was the blood about, not some sci-fi/metaphysical journey. In a way, each of the chapters deserved a separate, more detailed game. Some of them I would have liked to play; others not in the genre I prefer.


Reviewed by Lumin

As soon as I saw who the author of this one was I suspected I was in for a dark, twisted game with a lot of atmosphere, and I was able to make some assumptions about the ending as well. (which I won't go into here for obvious reasons) The warnings in the 'about' text as soon as I loaded it up informed me that yes, I had been right on all counts, and off I went. 

Light Up gets off to a strong start, even with the somewhat familiar horror game opening of a character preparing to explore a scary house. It may seem a little cliche, but that just goes to show that EVERYTHING comes down to presentation. Exploring the house was genuinely unsettling for me; I was at first reluctant to go inside, and even then reluctant to go into new rooms, nervous about what I might find. (The way the main character is written made it very easy to slip inside his head and start identifying with him, though that's part of a problem I had later on.) 

As the first bits of the mystery started to come together, I found myself getting even further drawn in. It's at that point that, without getting into spoilers, the character makes a discovery and the genre basically changes. Not to say that this is necessarily a bad thing, and there's plenty to experience in the later chapters too (the dark and twisted-ness is still there, most notably in one scene/puzzle that may well be the most disturbing thing I've ever come across in an IF--or any--game) but for me at least the jump was a little too jarring, and the game's first section will always be the high point. 

As far as gameplay goes, the technical aspects of the writing were sound, and there were only a couple of puzzles (in the second chapter) that I thought should have been clued better. This game also features the one and only example of combat in an IF game that didn't immediately irritate/bore the heck out of me, even if it did get kind of tedious before it was over. 

The ending, I hate to admit, I didn't really care for. Partially because, as I said, I saw it (or something like it) coming from the beginning, and partially because I couldn't stop myself from identifying with the main character anyway, especially compared to the other people around him. I also felt that there were a couple of fairly major plot points that got introduced and then dropped; in the end, as interesting as this was in other ways, I couldn't help but wish I'd also been able to play the 'terrifying mystery in a creepy house' game this had seemed to start out as. 


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