The Lighthouse is a thriller with a solid, but abstract story and basic puzzles. It is currently in Early Access and gives players access to the prologue, Act 1 and Act 2, with the third Act set to be released in early 2020. I enjoyed what the game had to offer, and I see immense potential for it to succeed. However, the experience was quite short lived, with only around an hour’s playtime.
+ Eerie atmosphere.
+ Interesting story.
+ Decent graphics across each environment.
+ Cutscenes are executed well and draws the player into the story.
+ Different dimensions are weaved into each Act, creating varied gameplay.
+ Steam achievements.
+ Notes scattered around to collect and discover more about the story.
– Extremely short for a prologue and 2 Acts, it only took one hour (without rushing).
– Some clunky mechanics. When I would go near an object to trigger a cutscene, sometimes it was delayed, or I just had to try a different side angle to get it started. This also occurred when trying to interact with specific items.
– Sound was a bit all over the place with some things being MUCH louder than others, such as the symphony.
– Minor glitches when an ‘event’ would trigger, and my screen would freeze for a few seconds [i5 RTX 2060].
+/- One of the trailers on the Steam store page is quite different to what I experienced and although it is all most likely in later chapters, it can be quite misleading.
Players begin in the 1960’s as James Irvine, an ex-detective who now operates as a private investigator. 7 years ago, Irvine’s daughter became ill and passed away, this turmoil consumed his life and lead to a path of alcohol addiction.
Now as a private investigator, he gets a mysterious letter that asks him to investigate the disappearance of a young girl at a lighthouse. It is from here that the story unfolds, and the case becomes a lot more complex than what was initially thought, delving into different, psychotic dimensions in search of the missing girl.
The Lighthouse seems to have been inspired heavily by ‘Layers of Fear’ and I see many similarities between the two titles, however, it also brings new elements to the table and is not a copy by any means.
The gameplay is based around what we usually see in these genres, exploration, puzzles, item collection, crafting and finding notes to follow the narrative story. In its current state, there is not too much to explore and most items that players must interact with are blatantly obvious, but more interactables are said to be added once out of Early Access. Despite this, there are still a handful of environments to explore and although they are small, they are quite charming.
Puzzles typically involve finding parts around the area and combining them with other parts to make a complete item. This item is then used, and a small puzzle may reveal itself, typically involving obvious clues in the vicinity. Puzzles are difficult to please everyone and although I personally would like to see a bit more complexity added, I understand why it may remain this way. The focus of the game is the narrative-driven story and thus, I am not too fussed with basic puzzles if the story remains decent.
The graphics definitely succeeded my expectations, with the standout element being the cutscenes. Everything has an eerie atmosphere that is both purposely uncomfortable yet alluring at the same time.
I did experience a few clunky scares that seemed out of place in comparison to the rest of the game, such as watching a vase fall directly in front of me, or seeing a wall disappear and shift, when these events are clearly only supposed to trigger when the players back is turned. Understandably, this title is in Early Access so minor errors like this are expected, and I do believe they will be ironed out in the full release. As it currently stands, the graphics are decent and especially so for an Indie horror title.
The Lighthouse is set in the early 1960’s and the developers have stayed true to this, careful in what they include to emulate the correct era. A scene in the investigators dishevelled office softly plays music, redolent of the time and gives players an understanding of the setting, before the year is made evident.
The voice acting is decent, although it is mainly focused on the prologue and I hope to see more inclusion of this in the final release. The sound effects are OK but there are many times when they do not really match with what is happening around them. Some sounds are far too loud and shrill for what is being depicted on screen. Alike with the music, sometimes it just came seemingly out of nowhere and did not blend well into the gameplay. Although these are minor gripes, I do believe sound is vital to creating the atmosphere and tension that is needed in horror games, if the intention is to conduct a fearful response in players.
Bugs and Glitches
Having already touched on these I will be brief. Sound is mismatched and too variable in volume, some scenes froze the game for a few seconds and some cut scenes were awkward to trigger. Most notably, the biggest problem for me was the annoyance of interacting with objects, particularly the fuse puzzle. I had difficulty selecting a specific item as I could not tell where my cursor was pointing at.
Price and Content
Overall, The Lighthouse displays a lot of promise and is sure to please fans of similar titles such as ‘Layers of Fear’. It has an intriguing story that is not scary in the traditional sense but has more of a psychological and thriller focus. I hope once the final Acts are released, the sound, item hotspot and optimisation issues will be fixed, creating a more immersive atmosphere.
A full price of $AU36 is quite far-fetched to me. With only a few Acts missing and only taking me about an hour to complete in its current state, I can’t recommend the game at such a high price. The game has quality components, namely the voice acting and graphics, however its short amount of playtime does not warrant such cost.
I greatly enjoyed The Lighthouse and look forward to the next promising update, but I would recommend waiting for a sale before purchasing.
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