Monday, 12 November 2018 06:59

The Light Keeps Us Safe Early Access Review

Written by

Edited by: John Gerritzen

The Light Keeps Us Safe is an atmospheric exploration-driven title with horror-esque and stealth elements. You explore a desolate world, devoid of other humans save for contact with a  mysterious woman who grants you vague details regarding what happened to everyone else. As she remarks early on, you must face this now hostile and desolate world alone.

The tutorial at the beginning is quite short but concise and sufficient.

Your goal is to scour biomes to retrieve components and motes. There are currently no difficulty options from which to choose, and avoiding machines is easy, but this title finds a way to keep you in suspense, for you never know what might be lurking around the corner.

Enemies have fairly predictable patrol areas. Knowing how and when to navigate around these patrols, distracting enemies by throwing glass bottles, and not putting yourself into a bad position are all integral to survival and not having to blow through your resources. Approaching a new area tactically with caution and an escape plan help ensure a successful exploration. If you enter into an enemy’s patrol territory, it’s often best to flee. Most enemies won’t chase you for long if at all, rendering the behavior of nearly all enemies even more predictable, and surviving easier. I’m not the best at stealth in a game, but it feels straightforward and intuitive here, or perhaps too easy. Certain enemies have a further attack range than what you might anticipate.

Managing your resources is necessary given that you may only have a certain number of each item; you’re unable to farm and stockpile them. This title is supposedly procedurally generated, but to what extent isn’t immediately apparent. At the least, exiting the bunker into the same area doesn’t produce a different map. This forces you to explore more of the area and not merely scour around and grab the most accessible components and motes. I’ve noticed in gameplay videos that the layout of a particular biome is different than that biome’s layout in my file.

There’s a sense of progression in The Light Keeps Us Safe

A certain number of components upgrade the flashlight, giving it a new feature, thereby unlocking access to more biomes to explore and also being more versatile out in the field against certain enemies. The motes you collect you deposit into a strange, dead machine. You’re unable to turn on the machine yet, however.

You’re unable to save manually; instead, the application autosaves after performing specific actions, such as whenever you obtain components, recharge your flashlight, or when you deposit motes. That the game autosaves after obtaining components is potentially problematic. If you’re low on health and out of healing items, it’s a rough journey back to the bunker. Nor do you have a map to which you may refer, so mentally marking landscapes (cars or buildings for instance) is handy. The further you venture into a biome, the harder this becomes.

Despite the current easiness of this game, the atmosphere helps keep you focused and in suspense, and each new biome felt creepier than the previous. The eerie sounds help enhance the foreboding atmosphere. The most suspense I felt came from either this odd fiery explosion I caught a glimpse of (and had no clue where it came from or whether or not it was hostile) or the time I attempted to run upstairs along the side of a building to escape a flying machine that detected me and the character refused to scale the steps. Stairs and ladders are a tad buggy, and this moment made that bug more scary than annoying. This title also has a frequent tendency to freeze for a second or two, particularly during the most inopportune moments.

The Verdict

There are needed tweaks to make, but setting those aside, The Light Keeps Us Safe is an enjoyable, suspenseful experience just short of being a horror game. Though, eeriness is pervasive due to the dark atmosphere and audio. If you enjoy atmospheric titles that are suspenseful, you should check this out; I look forward to seeing how this game’s development goes.

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Chris Hubbard

A fan of RPGs above other genres, Chris has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. Some of the games that had the most influence on his gaming preferences have been the Final Fantasy and the Diablo series. More recently, most of Chris' gaming time has been going toward Gems of War and Clicker Heroes (give it a try, it can be addicting), along with open-world RPGs such as Skyrim and ESO. He's also dabbled with RPG Maker software, and it is a goal of his to someday create an RPG.