Genre: Action, Arcade
System: Steam (Windows & Linux)
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £ 13.49 | US $ 15.99 | EU € 15,79
Release Date: July 28th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Big Pants
Three words describe my thoughts on Endlight: weird, arty and different. I’ll do my best to describe the gameplay for the game. The closest comparison I can make is to games like Rez on the Dreamcast, a phenomenal music game which this may have taken mild inspiration from.
You play what appears to be a floating cube moving through a tunnel-like 3D level. The goal is simple: just collect a few rings and the level will end. At the same time you need to dodge the massive volume of hazards coming towards you or if you prefer just smash into it, either option seems to work fine. It feels like an explosion of architecture, like art literally being thrown in your face. Often to the degree it confuses the vision.
The game sounds difficult, but really it isn’t. The controls in these segments are simple, requiring only the analogue stick to move into the right position, while the level continuously scrolls. Of course you can choose a mouse and keyboard if preferred. The music during these levels is also quite pleasant, feeling like a soft keyboard style beat that creates a zen like experience. These levels were easily my favourite part of the game.
Endlight features a few additional level variations. One where you scroll through the tunnel bumping into signs if you choose. Often these are moments for the developer to talk directly to the player about how you are enjoying the game. It feels a little odd, but guess it ties into the game’s abstract art design.
One other level design is even more out there, literally. These levels are introduced with a voice-over, shouting ‘Outside!’ in a triumphant voice. You now take control from a first person perspective like you’re in some spaceship flying around looking for rings to bash into. Sounds fun in principle but it’s very boring to actually play. Your movement speed is sluggish, like a snail, lacking the fast movement seen in other levels. The game also seems to mock you, as you very slowly get closer to a ring, it often flies away. I wasn’t so fond of these moments. (Update: a patch is in the works to address this).
If you really dislike a level you are able to skip it, but the game also picks up if you’re struggling or taking too long and may just skip for you. Speaking of difficulty you can tweak many features of the game in the options menu. In fact when you open the options a voice over will greet you and even explain all the various settings. You can tweak difficulty, field of view, flashing effects and many more. Basically you can make levels last as long or short as you like.
Levels are broken up into seasons for some reason, all individually titled, like this game is some weird TV series. Each level doesn’t take too long to complete and you’ll find yourself flying through each episode at a pretty nice pace. Though each season concludes with a bit more of a challenging level where you need to collect rings and avoid hazards. Failing these means you need to replay the level until you succeed.
This contrasts with the more casual feel of the game turning a season conclusion into a more stressful endeavour, these didn’t encourage me to press on. But if you do continue it will keep you busy with over 100 levels on launch. The developer advertises another 25 will be added each month.
A unique feature of Endlight is you can’t replay levels, you can only press forward. If you do miss a level, on December 9th 2023 the developer teases, you have the ‘right to replay’ so maybe you’ll get your chance. For me, I best enjoyed the game in small bursts in 5 or 10 minutes here or there. Since there’s no direction or narrative I saw this more as a casual, arcade-style experience to attempt to wind down to. But I’ll be honest I did start to get a bit bored on longer sessions, maybe because I was a bit confused about what was going on. Then again that might be the point.
Conclusion: A Unique Piece
Endlight is another of those games I would stick in the modern art category of gaming. Some gamers, likely budding game designers, will appreciate the unusual art direction and weirdness this game is going for. But I can see many others, myself included, that just walk away from the experience a little confused. This doesn’t mean I dislike the game. If anything I respect the effort to be different and go in its own direction no matter how odd that seems to be. This is the joy of the indie gaming scene and I am grateful the developers gave me the opportunity to cover it. If you’re looking for something different and you want to see an explosion of art on your PC monitor then add this to your next game night in.
Final Verdict: I Like it