In Rays of the Light

Developer ‘Sometimes You’ brings us a gem of a remake with In Rays of the Light. This first-person exploration puzzle game sets up the player with a beautiful, albeit small, world where they investigate a potentially self-imposed catastrophe that begs the questions “what have we done and why have we done it?”

It is highly recommended to play the game with captions turned on. While not exactly necessary to complete the game, this offers tips and insight that will shave off at least 30 minutes of aimless wandering trying to find a specific item or two. However, some of the puzzles can take some time, so if you want to feel like you’ve definitely gotten your money’s worth, adding some extra playtime to the game isn’t exactly a detriment.

The controls are smooth and for the most part the graphics are clean. The odd glitch is common so don’t be surprised if you get stuck in a doorway every now and then. While that may add to a feeling that the game might not be entirely finished, the real evidence of this is found in the use of foliage for an invisible wall; foliage that elsewhere in the game is completely traversable.

Captions will only help so much, as random trial and error is a present issue with the game that can sometimes lead to frustration. The game relies heavily on exploration of your environment and sometimes the only way to proceed through the story is to traverse a given room or series of tunnels repeatedly. The frustration here can be forgiven because of the intensity and interest created from both level and sound design, but once completed and upon recollection the player just has to ask “Why?”

The score and sound design are stunning. Players are treated to a haunting piano score that evokes both the peace and terror of isolation, all while exploring an industrial environment that has been untouched for years and since reclaimed by the natural world. This eventually gives way to a booming, breathy and extremely ominous soundscape when exploring the tunnels below ground. Trudging through disgusting waters while exploring a labyrinth where the shadows of the dead are burned into the decrepit cement walls provides not only a juxtaposition of the grounds above, but also a warning of the weight of the story that follows.

Having not played 2012’s The Light I was not sure what I was getting into when starting this 2021 remake. It is a grim yet beautiful experience that is undoubtedly worth your time. The visuals, much like the amazing score, manage to capture the peace and absolute terror of loneliness in a post-apocalyptic setting. The controls are concise and the game play is mostly seamless. As a puzzle game it can be sometimes frustrating and humbling, but also rewarding when everything comes together. In Rays of the Light is a wonderful balance of calm and terror peppered with metaphors and philosophies of self-destruction and the afterlife. With a relatively short completion time, there is really no excuse not to experience what this game has to offer and it is a high recommend.

~~Ben Mason~~

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