Light Tracer is a puzzle platformer for the PSVR that is three parts fun and one part rage inducing. The overall idea and some of the level design is really good and shows what VR can do to infuse an old genre with new life. The problem is that the slightly imprecise controls, infrequent glitch, and frustrating mechanics can sometimes have you falling to your death or repeating something needlessly. Even with my complaints, Light Tracer is still worth a trip up the tower.
Light Tracer puts you in the floating hands of a silent deity who is helping a sassy princess climb the Tower of Belbatis. Her people have been mysteriously put into a deep sleep, and she desperately needs to seek help from the heavens to save them.
The story plays out in little snippets between seven different worlds with five levels each. The fifth level is always a boss fight, and the eighth world consists of one level with a boss fight. The story gives you just enough justification for climbing to the top and does not stick around long enough to annoy you. For this game, it is perfect.
As you ascend, you will be using both of the PS Move Controllers. Your right hand holds a scepter topped with a glowing orb that sends a beam of light wherever you point. By pushing the right trigger, you can tell your little Carol Anne to walk toward the light. Eventually, you will also gain a sword and use the right controller to strike.
Your left controller is represented by a hand on-screen, and you can use it to manipulate your view of the world and items in the world. By holding the left trigger, you can turn the world left or right, gain a higher or lower view, and generally position yourself for the best possible viewing angle for that next jump or puzzle.
Every level starts with you being at the bottom left (until you change the view), and you climb to a portal above you using ramps, jumping, machines, or even teleporting. As you might expect, the beginning levels are pretty simple while they familiarize you with the mechanics. Later levels become far more complicated, including enemies such as a floating tomato, a flea that jumps out of the ground, and (the worst) an angry bee that fires green lasers at you.
With no health bar, every hit from an enemy or fall is instant death, and, although you might fall to a lower level without being hurt, I normally heard the fading sound of her yelling as she fell. Outside of falling out of sight, there is not a lot of consistency in which falls kill you. From roughly the same height, I survived my drop, or I watched her fall on her back and comically yell as if she was continuing to fall.
Death is not a horrible event in Light Tracer. Outside of hearing her tell you a million times that she will never give up or she is OK, you will respawn at the last save portal in the level. These are marked by green gems, and you are never kept from taking another try at whatever ended you a second ago. The worst part is that your view will reset to a default view by the portal, so you will only have to move it back.
The levels themselves can vary between more straightforward climbing and jumping to reach the end to very clever puzzles that require you to view the problem from multiple angles to reach the solution. They were always ready to twist something you had learned or even combine mechanics in a new way. I found myself experimenting to find a solution and loved the feeling of success when it worked.
Light Tracer’s level design is good. The spider boss fight while walking on the floor and the ceiling was the best in the game. Since I could see anywhere, there were times when I would physically stand inside of a puzzle just to be able to look back and forth.
Fortunately, the visuals were pleasant, even though the music was a little repetitive. The different worlds all had a unique theme or time of day, and I appreciated the changes. Outside the excellent music in world 4-3 and 6-3, the other themes were mostly just variations on the main tune. They were fine, but the main song was repeated a little too much for my liking.
For those of you jelly bellies with VR queasiness problems, I did not have any issues at all. I was able to play continuously for over an hour without a break and experienced almost zero nausea.
This did not apply to times when the movement was jerky. When using my left hand to move the world, there were times that my view would snap forward or backward quickly or seem to get caught on something. This was frustrating, and it caused me to have to push the world view out or in, up and down to get the view right.
Even worse was the occasional object clipping in the world. Some puzzles require you to move or pick up objects. When it works, it is fun. When it sticks halfway out of the floor, infinitely falls, or does not regenerate, causing you to restart a boss fight, it is maddening.
The controls were another source of problems. In some levels, you can turn objects to move platforms, and there are places where they are close together. This can cause you to move the wrong part multiple times, even when your hand is over the right place. Even one by itself can be a little clunky.
Finally, the controls to jump or slash with the sword seemed to need a second between attempts. If your timing was off, there was no opportunity to quickly correct it. You were going to have to repeat the last part after you stopped falling to your death or making the odd death moan. This may be due to the PS Move controller and not the game, but it was really annoying.
Light Tracer is a good game for someone looking for a break from the shooters and half hour “experiences” offered by other PSVR games. The level design is good, and I did not have any problems with motion sickness. There are some technical and mechanical issues that may have you throwing a remote occasionally, but it is perfect for someone who is happier with light puzzle games than as merely a platformer.
Light Tracer PS4 Review
Light Tracer is a puzzle platformer for the PSVR that lets you guide a princess up a tower and change the view at will. The levels are mostly well-designed and creative, but technical and mechanical issues will cause you some trouble while you play. There is still plenty to enjoy here for a PSVR game, and it can be played without worrying about nausea.
If puzzle platforming is your jam, and you own a PSVR, you should give Light Tracer a try.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.