“The floor is lava.”
Most would associate the above sentence as one coming from a kid’s game, where imaginations would fuel your games. Not Lightmatter. Lightmatter is a Single-player First Person Puzzler, where you solve puzzles using light to, for lack of a better term, illuminate your way.
The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream
The premise is simple; in pursuit of a brand new renewable resource of energy, a science experiment goes horribly wrong, destroying the facility where the renewable energy source is kept in. However, not everyone manages to make it to safety, and you, the player, now has to find his way out. There is one catch, however: any place where the shadows touch, you, as the player, cannot. This time, however, “the Shadows are lava”, as the game is wont to tell you right at the beginning.
The setting of the game could not be more familiar. Supposedly set in the world of Portal, you find little easter eggs everywhere, and the narrator of the game even references Cave Johnson and Black Mesa once or twice. Scattered about you find little drawings and scribbles on the air vents, which is very much akin to what Portal had when you tried to escape the testing facilities. The environments are pretty much generic. A purplish glow illuminates the entire game, where you run through offices and laboratories to desperately find an exit in order to escape the hellhole you find yourself trapped in.
Hello, is this thing working?
There are two main instruments you find yourself manipulating throughout the entirety of the game. The first is a normal lamp, which is directional. It casts no light toward your feet, and so you cannot run around with the lamp, expecting it to illuminate you. It points forward, and only forward. The second kind has a 360 glow around you, which is nice but requires a direct line of sight to an energy source in order to power up. Just these 2 combinations of lights make for an immersive time puzzle-solving, with plenty of brain teasers to keep you busy. However, like Portal, it can be a rather short playthrough, costing me a mere 4 hours of actual game time (minus all the times I got stuck of course). This can feel a little lacking, considering the price tag, but it was definitely rewarding.
The music of the game was good, yet wholly unmemorable. It definitely lent a sense of wonder and dread to the game, but upon finishing the game, I could not tell you what the music really was. The melody was probably deliberately made to be something that would keep you playing for stretches on end, but I felt that the music could definitely be a little more catchy, or have some form of defining quality to it that would distinguish itself. The voice cast was wonderful, however. Virgil, the main narrator of the entire game, was fantastically haughty and vindictive and with his taunts, managed to make me doubt my problem-solving capabilities. Ellen, meanwhile, managed to portray a person who was genuinely trying to help, all slowly moving the story forward. The ambiance was sufficiently hollow, as the game is set within caves in a mountain, so the reverberation was sufficiently set to convey the emptiness of the space which is now devoid of any life.