[Review] Gleamlight – Nintendo Switch

Written by Akio Kahoshi
  • Developer: DICO
  • Publisher: D3Publisher
  • Release date: 20/08/2020
  • Price: £14.99 / $19.99
  • Review code provided by D3Publisher

INTRODUCING: GLEAMLIGHT SWITCH REVIEW

Gleamlight’s trailer intrigued me with its stained glass graphics, so when I was given the opportunity to review it I was quite happy to take it. Unfortunately that happiness did not last very long as the many flaws in the game quickly became apparent.

HIDDEN GLASS

The one area that Gleamlight delivers best is in the stained glass visual style. It is unquestionably lovely to look at… when you can see it at least. As I started my journey within the mosaic art piece of a world, I quickly discovered that the only light source appeared to be my characters sword. Even worse, the light from it did not stretch terribly far away from my character. This had the dual effect of hiding the lovely art of the game and making the platforming unnecessarily challenging.

While it is not unusual for platformers to have segments of a game that rely on darkness to make for a more challenging experience, it is a bad mechanic in the best of games and rarely used for more than a single section. Now imagine that, except right from the start of the game. More than once I died simply because I could not see the hazard below me before I jumped down a ledge.

The game thankfully gets you back into the action relatively quickly, but every time I died due to simply not being able to see where I was going, I simply became more frustrated. Simply making the entire game lit up so everything on screen can be seen at once would have gone a significant way to improving the gameplay experience. It also would have let Gleamlight’s lovely backgrounds shine a bit more.

LIGHTING A PATH

When I loaded Gleamlight, the only explanation I received to what was going on was the main character picking up the glowing sword that is your main weapon. That is it. I received no story, no explanation of controls, not even how health worked. It was only after defeating several enemies and dying myself that I confirmed that how brightly colored I was indicated my health, taking damage turned me closer to grey, and hitting enemies restored color (health).

Having played platformers before, there was nothing too difficult to determine, but for anyone not used to the standard affordances of platform games, this would surely be a frustrating experience. Using the trigger button to dash, and down-jump to drop down a platform are both required to progress through the early stages yet neither are explained to the user while actually playing the game.

The way health is managed also feels weird, though not unplayably so. The first boss in the game, which you begin fighting for no apparent reason due to the lack of any story (up front at least), trapped me behind it against a wall. I could not move passed it, or jump over it. So I simply kept attacking it, and since my attacks healed me for as much as the boss was hurting me I eventually killed it. Not a terribly fun fight, but hey, at least I could continue the game.

SHATTERED GLASS

It is unfortunate that Gleamlight stumbles so badly. For the most part all of its flaws seem to stem from poor decision making during development rather than a lack of skill. The game look good, when you can see it, and what game play is there seemed to be bug free. It simply is not fun to play.

Pros

  • Attractive art style

Cons

  • All dark all the time
  • No narrative at opening of game
  • No explanation of basic controls
  • Clunky and not terribly fun combat

Verdict
A game that had the potential to be at least decent, but ends up falling short. Let this one remain in the dark, where it seems to prefer being anyway.

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