Lighteaters is an interesting mash up of a puzzler and a platformer that does things in its own way. It’s a wander through dark places full of monsters, but it doesn’t give you superpowers. Instead you’re armed with a flashlight and two health bars. And you need to use these to sneak and think your way past a series of gloopy beasts, finding the key to escape from the dank hell you find yourself in.
And it all works pretty darn well. There’s a spooky atmosphere despite the cartoon graphics, and the way the health system works means you’ll be nervously staring at your dwindling reserves as you skitter past an orange gooey beast with a single glowering eye.
You play a young girl who’s trapped in some horrible dreams. The aim of the game is to escape each of these dreams by finding a key. There’s also a stuffed toy and a hidden animal to find in each of the challenges if you like to finish everything off properly.
The main weapon in your arsenal isn’t a weapon at all, it’s a flashlight. But when it’s lit you’re making yourself a beacon for the ghosts and ghouls that haunt the level. The only way past them, at least to begin with, is to turn off the light and sneak past them. And that’s where the twist comes in. You can only have your flashlight off for so long before you get scared to death. No one likes walking around in dark corridors surrounded by monsters, after all. But turn your light on at the wrong time and you’ll get attacked by one of the monsters who are drawn to the shine.
The two bar system works remarkably well. You need to balance the physical damage you’ll take with the psychological damage of walking around in the dark. You can take some time to recharge your flashlight, but there are rewards for finishing levels below a certain time that you’ll miss out on if you do. There are other interesting ideas at play here as well. Finding a bat will show you the way to the key, but the directions it layers over the level will only last for so long. Then there are the mice that skitter between holes in the wall, switches that need to be pulled, and plenty of other more standard platforming mechanics.
The main problem here is the controls, which take a little bit of getting used to. You swipe and hold to move, as well as to jump. Timing some of the leaps feels a bit strange to begin with, but after a while you’ll get to grips with the slightly weird system.
That’s the only major black mark on Lighteaters report, though. There are a few minor stumbles, like a slightly uninspiring art style and a vague sense of repetition every time you you start a level thanks in part to the darkness that permeates every aspect of the game, but neither of these detract from the fun to be had here. And it’s a kind of fun that you don’t normally see on the App Store. This isn’t a perfect game, but even in its flaws there are glimpses of innovation, and that’s no bad thing.
Lighteaters is an engaging and entertaining slice of mobile gaming that doesn’t follow the crowd, and even if only for that alone, it’s well worth picking it up.