Illuminator Review: The Promise of Dawn in the Darkness

Illuminator Review: The Promise of Dawn in the Darkness

Platforms: Windows PC

Game Name: Illuminator

Publisher: Independent

Developer: Logan Ames

Genre: Experimental, Platformer

Developer Summary:

Kill enough ghouls to weaken the stitches on the tear in space, so that you can follow the ghouls through the houses and rescue your sister.

What We Think:

“Jamie and the Magic Torch” This Ain’t (and that’s a good thing!)

A remake of a less-than-stellar NES title of the same name, Illuminator manages to stay true to its game play roots, but offers up a great deal more in the story and development department.

The player controls a young boy, asleep in his home, when screams are heard.  Suddenly, the lights go out. After some exploring, it’s clear that your sister is gone, and now, armed only with a powerful flashlight, you have to fend off an army of unsightly ghouls if you ever hope to be reunited with your sibling.

Would you mind smoking outside?

The flashlight is a considerable weapon, and provides the most powerful source of light in the game. Hitting ghouls with its beams will cause them to smoke. Allow the flashlight to supercharge, and you can send ghouls to a fiery end. Be careful in the moments when the house is dark. Ghouls are constantly moving around and can get the drop on you without even knowing of their presence.

Smells like smashed puppies in here...

Be certain to search all areas of the home! You will find helpful health bonuses, night lights (which will provide a dim island of respite amidst the shadows). Strands of Christmas lights can be run along short distances of the floor, and desk lamps can be aimed at certain areas. When ghouls cross these elements, you’ll at least see them coming, giving you a valuable second to mount a counter-measure or flee to a safer area. Seek out the dimensional fissure in each area and meet the conditions to force it open. This is how you complete a level. It will bring you through a rift, provide you with an additional life, and deposit you in the next stage.

The Horror…The Horror…

This is one creepy game. The music that plays throughout occupies a realm somewhere between Ghosts ‘N Goblins and Splatter House. Though you can get away with keeping your flashlight on in the earlier stages, you’ll have to flash and dash in the later ones. This means a great deal of time in almost darkness. It will freak you out. You’ll be able to close the door on basic ghouls, but enemies in other levels are faster, and some are even able to work doorknobs.

If you don’t place your night lights strategically, you may well find your health points depleted quickly when an unseen barrage of baddies charges your position. You’ll have to play strategically to get through some of the larger levels. You’ll be hearing beasts you can’t see well after you stop playing the game and try to get some sleep.

You've saved on hydro...but at what cost?

Low-Res, High Excitement

Illuminator is a great achievement as an indie title based solely on the mood it manages to convey using so little. Beyond that, it’s also a thrill to play: simple controls, simple design, excellent execution. This is one side-scrolling game that does the recent trend of 8-bit inspired titles proud.

[xrr rating = 4.5/5]

Download Illuminator for FREE here.