[Review] Archaica: The Path of Light – Nintendo Switch

Written by Mel Curtis
  • Developer: Two Mammoths
  • Publisher: Drageus Games
  • Release date: 24/4/2019
  • Price: £13.49 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by Drageus Games

Introducing: Archaica: The Path of Light Review

I’m a big fan of puzzle games in the first place, but the Switch has quickly become my go-to way to play puzzle games. This isn’t all that surprising, considering that the 3DS was my go-to system for puzzlers before the switch came along. Nintendo handhelds have just always worked pretty well for puzzles, even if some of their well known puzzle series such as Professor Layton or Phoenix Wright have been ported to other forms of playing. Either way, I’ll always jump to add another title to my Nintendo Switch library for puzzling on the go or laying in bed, especially when they bring a new form of puzzling to my hands like Archaica: The Path of Light does.

Walking the Path

Archaica actually does have a story to it, but I wouldn’t blame you if you missed it. It’s told in a rather subtle way, and for the most part, you’re going to have to search it out if you want to see it. It’s about your journey along the titular Path of Light as a “lightbearer”. Solving the puzzles opens up the way for you and allows you to move forward on your journey, learning more about the world as you go along. The way the prologue opens up to the rest of the game serves as a really great illustration of this, as a single ring of a monument that allows you to select your level opens up into a larger rotating monument that shows just how long the path before you really is.

The way that you’re going to be finding out the story is by searching for glowing panels around the area of each level. They’re rarely hard to find and there’s usually not too many of them so it takes less than a minute to do so. The issue comes in when you might be a little singularly focused on solving the puzzle that you have just laid eyes on, and just plow right through on that. There were several times where I completely forgot to grab them before starting the puzzle and would have to go back and do so after finishing it. I personally think the story could have been better served by having these as flavor text before the levels, but I wouldn’t say that it was a big downside to the game either. It was just something that caused very minor irritation a few times over the course of my entire playthrough.

Changing Direction

So, Archaica really caught my eye because of the type of puzzle that it focuses on, light direction puzzles. This is one of those forms of puzzle that you see a lot more often as a single challenge somewhere in a game rather than the focus of a whole game of their own. Typically, seeing one of these puzzles when I’m playing some other kind of game gets me really excited, but you don’t often see a lot of variety when they do pop up. That had me worried about if they could support an entire game on their own like this. I’m glad to say that they were able to.

While each of the puzzles has the same basic premise, there’s still a lot of variety in the way that you will eventually reach the conclusion of it. Not only will you be placing mirrors in order to direct the beams of light, but you’ll also be doing things like splitting light or charging stones in order to change the layout of the level completely. Perhaps my favorite element introduced by this game to this puzzle concept is the way that light colors actually combine when they go together in one direction. This opens up a lot of possibilities for the puzzles in regards to the color of the light you are directing and gives something new that I have not seen from them before. You’ll also sometimes have multiple objectives, such as the stones that will unlock the many locks of hidden areas if you manage to light those up along with the main goal of the level. Having these multiple solutions made me think harder about what I was doing and allowed me to get more time out of one level as I had to think about it in more than one way.

If there is any concern about difficulty, don’t worry too much about it. While the introduction to the game is fairly easy, like it should be, as you learn the basic concepts of the gameplay, as you go on it does get more difficult and forces you to think more deeply about the puzzles that you’re solving. There were quite a few times where I was utterly stumped for a good while for the puzzle, but never in a way that I wasn’t having fun. The only place where the game play fell down for me was in the two types of mirrors looking similar enough that mixed them up a few times, but that was hardly a major drawback.

Chase the Light

I have to say that this is one of those games where I didn’t expect it to have this much of an aesthetic, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it did. They really went all in on the idea of walking through ancient places along the path of light. Each of the puzzle are in distinct and memorable, matching well with the portion of the story that is being told there. The look of the game really is whole package if you’re looking for something to give you a healthy dose of setting and vibe along with poking and prodding your mind. Long story short, I really liked it on a personal level.

Unfortunately, the sound doesn’t really rise to the same level. There’s not much to the soundtrack to write home about, and the sound effects were mostly just fairly stock sounding mystical sounds. It was never enough to take me out of the game’s setting or anything like that, but it was letting a lot of the heavy lifting fall on the visuals. It’s one of those cases where I just wish they took one more step in order to elevate it.

Reflect and Refract

I will say that playing the game handheld did help me a lot with figuring things out, as I think some of the elements just weren’t as easy to visually discern on a larger screen without being fairly close to it. If you’re one of those people who sits on the complete opposite side of the room from your tv, you might have a little trouble spotting some things since I did not see any option to zoom in. I generally find that it’s easier to play puzzle games in handheld, though, so I wouldn’t hold this against Archaica in the slightest.

Return Home

Overall, I enjoyed my time with Archaica, even though I don’t think I will be returning to it for a while. I need time for the puzzle solutions to leave my mind and there are other puzzle games calling to me at the moment. It was fun, but I wouldn’t call it my favorite, even though I think it was one of the better games to be found on the switch.

Pros

  • Wonderful look and setting
  • Engaging and varied game play
  • Brings new life to light direction puzzles

Cons

  • Story can be somewhat easy to miss if you’re puzzle focused
  • A few puzzle elements could look similar to one another

Verdict
An engaging puzzle game that brings a less used puzzle format to the forefront.
4/5

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