by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Puppet shows have been around in some form for centuries. Prior to TV and cinema, crowds often gathered for these shows. Different nationalities performed them in their own way, but they each entertained the local populace. Projection: First Light takes the puppet show theme – in this case shadow puppets and turns it into a puzzle platformer. Players take the role of Greta and guide her through a shadowy tale across several cultures. In each of the locales, she helps and is helped by some legendary heroes, but is helped most by a guiding light source.
After being banished to her room for creating havoc in her hometown through a series of clumsy accidents, Greta finds a secret passage in her room that sends her to the first of her international locations - Indonesia. Suddenly upon entering this world, Greta is no longer the clumsy oaf, but become the heroine of the story.
The glowing orb that follows Greta shapes her world, casting shadows that allow her to reach areas that she normally would not be able to access. The puzzle portion of the game involves creating the shadows so that our hero can navigate through to the end of each level. Gamers must use the objects around Greta to cast the correct shadow formation using the light source.
Lighting up the world
Projection: First Light requires the use of a twin-stick controller. The left stick controls Greta whilst the right stick controls the light source. The Indonesian levels allow the gamer to work through the levels at their own pace, positioning the light source at exactly the right point. But as you progress through China, Turkey and England, new mechanics are added, and additional hazards are placed in your way. Timed sequences where player must light a short-term flame to use as a secondary source of light, means that Greta’s glowing orb needs to be placed in the right spot within a shorter amount of time. At times controlling the light source can be a tad touchy, and moving it into the optimal location within the required time can be quite difficult.
As well as the shadows, there are several other features that are used in solving puzzles. Projection: First Light uses switches and sensor platforms to increase the difficulty. Often, our hero must interact with objects around her to help complete the puzzles. She can pick up and move boxes and vases so that they trigger the sensor platforms or can be used to create new shadows. There are also a number of bosses that Greta will need to defeat along the way, using shadows and environmental hazards to her advantage.
Throughout the course of her journey through the well-designed levels, Greta will also be able to collect glowing butterflies. These bright flying insects are not always in direct view, so collecting them will often mean that players will need to deviate from the direct path to find them. Players will not know how many are in each level until after they’ve completed the stage, and so there is a replay factor to Projection: First Light.
The story itself contains no voiced dialogue, or indeed any dialogue at all. But the story moves along nicely with characters expressing themselves either through their actions or iconized thought bubbles. Through these interactions, a bond is formed between Greta and the characters in each location and a sense of achievement is gained once you have helped those characters solve their predicament.
Visually, Projection: First Light has somewhat of a Limbo feel, albeit with a yellowish hue as a backdrop. Characters and settings are all represented as black shadows, and the characters all have rods attached to their limbs that represent that they are being controlled by a puppeteer. The settings for each location have been well designed, giving each area an authentic feel. And with the lovely background music, combines to create a serene ambience throughout the entire game.
Lighting the way
Projection: First Light does a lot of things right. The visual style is pleasing and the story is quite charming. The puzzles have been well designed often allowing for more than one solution to moving Greta through the levels. The many levels slowly incorporate new challenges as the gamer progresses, and the collecting of butterflies allows for multiple playthroughs. If you’re a fan of puzzle platformers that you can speed through, Projection will cause some angst, due to the finnicky shadows - particularly in the timed puzzles. Despite that, Projection: First Light is a fun, relaxing puzzle platformer for all ages.
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Wonderful puzzles, great use of the light source mechanic. Relaxing atmosphere
Getting the light source in the exact location during timed sequences can be troublesome