Today I’ve tried Spark of Light by Pillow’s Willow, a nice puzzle game for Gear VR and Daydream (Daydream support is coming soon).
The plot of the game is the following:
The storyline evolves around Nerow, a little boy who lives peacefully alongside mystical creatures such as Mothlings and giants. Their peace is disturbed when the greedy Moth King abducts the sun, leaving Nerow and his friends in the dark. Nerow asks the player to help restore balance by retrieving light sources and light up the world by solving environmental puzzles.
The game starts with a nice firefly animation that takes you to a level select stage made in 3D (remembered to me a bit the menu of Face your Fears): total levels of the game are five and obviously at first execution you can start only with level 1.
The game, once started, presents itself with its nice graphics. We’re talking about a good graphics, as far as a Gear VR device can handle. This is not Robo Recall running on the Oculus Rift, of course.
The coolest part of the graphics is something that you can’t get at the beginning of the game, but that you understand while playing it: lighting. The game, as the title suggests, is all focused on lighting and on light creatures like fireflies. Light effects are really amazing. A lot of objects have actions that are related to lights and this makes the game very pleasant to the eyes. A last note on graphics: I’ve played the game on my Samsung Note 4 and while not going super-smoothly, I managed to play the game… so kudos to Pillow’s Willow for the optimizations they’ve employed!
The game has a third-person perspective: you have a piece of this little fantasy world around you and inside it you can see Nerow, your character. Your purpose is to help him retrieving again lighting by rescuing the Sun-bug and to reach this goal, you have to solve various puzzles. For instance, in the first level, you have to make the bell to sound to make the sun shine. To obtain this final goal of the level, you have to solve various mini-puzzles, making Nerow go from his initial location to the final one and then activating the bell with the last enigma. Actually, you don’t know at the beginning of the level what is your purpose, not even how the objects present in the world work, so you just start exploring and experimenting, in order to understand how to solve the various little puzzles. Puzzles are not over-complicated, but also not very easy, so you’re required to think a bit and that’s great because makes the game more challenging. Anyway, there’s always coherence in what you have to do, so, you don’t arrive at the madness levels of Monkey Island where you had to use a fountain with a monkey.
About control scheme, the recommended input device is the Samsung Remote, but I managed to play the game very well just using the headset, too. So the remote is advised, but not necessary. Most objects gets activated with a simple tap; others require a long press to work (for instance the bridges of the first level… I lost a lot of time because I tried to simply tap on them!); to make two objects to work together, the first object can be dragged onto the second one. Nerow can’t be moved directly, but he’ll respond to your actions: for instance, if you open a door next to him, he will enter it; if you pave the way in front of him, he’ll walk. He already knows the paths to follow and this guides you. This can also be frustrating: for instance, at a certain point, he decided to not move anymore even if I opened the doors next to him and I had to quit the game.
Developers also provided some clues to help the player: in the second level I was looking around and exploring the environment, and at a certain point Nerow started yelling at me, to remember me that I had to solve the puzzles to pave his way so that he could move. At a certain point, he also became annoying and continued saying “Hi Hi Hi Hi Hi…” to get my attention. I had the temptation to take him and launch him into the void saying to him “Bye Bye Bye Bye…”.
Maybe the only downside of this game is that the player has to discover everything through exploration: while on one side this is challenging and so entertaining, on the other end it may be frustrating not knowing what to do. You have to discover how everything works. But this is surely a choice: most puzzle games work this way (for instance, escape rooms). Other players also say that the game is too short, but I have a different opinion.
In the end, I found that Spark of Light is a very nice game. These Dutch guys have managed to create an entertaining 3D puzzle game in VR. The game environment is very nice, graphics are well designed and the puzzles are challenging. The story is nice. I enjoyed giving a try to this little game.
If you want to play with it, you can find it on the Oculus Store (Gear VR version) for €4.99. Have a nice play!
(Header image by Pillow’s Willow)