Light Tracer VR Review for the HTC Vive – An old school platforming game for the new school of gaming.
Light Tracer, originally for the PSVR, is reminiscent of an old-school platformer/puzzle game, made from the ground up for Virtual Reality. In it, you follow a small lost Princess guiding her up an ever-growing tower, helping her solve puzzles and avoid bad guys (and falling to her death) while learning about what exactly drives her climb up this tower as you progress through the game.
Controlling the character is simple, you point the beam of light from your want and put your thumb on the trackpad and away she goes. Jumping is achieved through pressing in the trackpad on the Vive controllers. You can freely move yourself around the environment by grabbing and pulling, pushing or twisting your view around. The entire game is based on 3D pathways set up in a manner that they continuously go around in a perpetual square that climbs upwards, mimicking the old 2D platforms in a 3D space. It’s really quite ingenious.
I think a lot of platforming and puzzle games I’ve played in the past have failed because either their platforming was boring, or worse, frustrating – or because their puzzles were either too easy, or too hard. I haven’t played all of this game yet (judging by the trailer and how much I’ve played, I think I have a long way to go actually) but even so far I’ve been introduced to fun new mechanics – some cool puzzles, a lot of platforming sections that were really fun to play through, and the game even features bosses that require a bit of skill and critical thinking to figure out. I think they were looking for a “Just right” approach, and I think they found it.
The puzzles don’t start off exactly easy, but they don’t seem to be getting into frustrating-level difficulty either. So far they’ve all felt difficult enough to make me pause for a minute (too many minutes on the puzzle in the gif above,) but not enough to make me quit the game in frustration. All in all, the puzzles are good, and the eureka moments when figuring out the boss puzzles are really enjoyable. The platforming is generally good – the only complaints I could have in this area are some minor parts where the Princess will get physically stuck, usually when a flat area meets a ramp. Also, depending on which angle you’re looking from, sometimes higher up parts of the level can move in-between your light and the character, causing unintended movements and even made me fall once. There are a few platforming sections I had small difficulty with simply because it seemed I had to do an absolutely perfect jump off of a jump-pad which was pretty hard to time due to how you control the game – but these are very rare instances so far.
One thing that I was very surprised, and glad about, was the varied looks of the environment – and I feel like at time of writing this I haven’t seen close to all the different areas yet. While the gifs provided are from a very early part of the game not to reveal too much – even as I’ve progressed further I’ve seen some really cool tile and block sets. The gif above shows a desert style block set, and the rock throwing guys, and frankly every part of the aesthetics come together to make a really cool world. We’ve already seen the basic Forest one, and the boss for that area has a different tileset too. The stark differences of the areas remind me of the different zones in early Sonic games and other platformers, which is not only impressive for VR – but impressive overall in a gaming industry that likes to make one map or style of map and continuously re-use it. This is another area for me that, if their trailer is anything to go buy, I have a ton more environments to see even where I’m at in the game. What I’m showing in these gifs is just the start.
On a similar vein, I was as highly impressed by the music in the game – even more so than I was by the environment. I can’t even count the different sound track pieces I’ve heard in how far I am – and just like the environments, I’m sure there’s a lot more. There’s tons of different styles, instruments, and inspirations from different genres – and it’s all real music. The game is high quality in-and-of itself, but the soundtrack is on even a higher level than that. As a huge music fan I can’t praise it enough – I was so inspired I almost want to sample some of those tracks for my own music! I can’t praise it enough though, the music is a solid 10/10 for sure.
I do want to say, however, that I did notice some issues related to what I think is the porting of the game – on the HTC Vive, the logos and the tutorials for the game are right up in your face. To best describe it, it looks like the logo is pasted on top of the actual HTC Vive screens – which is really strange looking considering you’re always looking through the lenses, rather than focusing directly on them. It’s not anything you don’t get used to, but it’s physically surprising to have that appear so closely at first. You almost have to cross your eyes to read it. The only other thing is that the controls aren’t mapped to the Vive wand in the most common ways – things that would be normally controlled by a trigger (like grabbing objects) are instead controlled by pressing the thumpad – re-center yourself is mapped to grip, which could probably be top menu button – et cetera. The version I have I believe is Beta – so not only is likely these issues could be fixed in the future, however they aren’t anything that should affect how you play or enjoy this game.
Overall, this game is a well-made VR game, and that’s pretty high praise in the first place. It’s a fun and engaging platformer and puzzle game on its own – it’d be a great game if it wasn’t in VR. However, the specific way the square tower keeps progressing upwards, and how you interact with the world in the Virtual Reality play space takes Light Tracer from a great platformer game, to an amazing VR game that’s tied together with really incredible music, great graphics, and visually pleasing levels.
Thanks for reading! If you want to see more, you can find my Twitch stream at twitch.tv/crimsonBZD – I not only play virtual reality, but a wide variety of games. Fun and friends are more important than playing like a pro. This article is just a glimpse of what I and VR have to offer. I plan on making more virtual reality videos and articles for you to enjoy. I want to give a huge shoutout to @ChelzBZD for being awesome thanks ya’ll!