Linelight from My Dog Zorro
Linelight is an almost purely abstract puzzle game that’s nonetheless charming and engaging – no mean feat for a game without characters, storyline or setting in the conventional sense! It’s also a joy to play, even if – like me – you’re the type of player that usually finds logic puzzles frustrating rather than fun.
Make a Circuit with Me
Each level consists of a crisscrossing array of lines arranged a like circuits on a circuit board. The game’s “protagonist,” as such, is a glowing line segment that moves along the pathway of lines. As it progresses, new puzzles to unlock appear and the main pathway extends itself. It’s easier to understand in practice than it is to describe.
Brett Taylor, the sole developer responsible for Linelight, has done an amazing job communicating the game’s mechanics wordlessly. Simple visual cues convey a wealth of information, and the puzzle design progresses at a perfect pace. The game introduces new elements – switches, for example, or keys – in such a way that they’re easy to comprehend without detracting from the challenge of the puzzles themselves.
The Line, the Cross and the Curve
The game adds additional “characters” to the basic mechanics. Red line segments, for example, serve as the game’s “enemies.” Get hit by one, and you’re “dead.” At times, though, you’ll need them to open locked gates that block your progress. Guide a red segment into one for mutually assured destruction, and the pathway opens.
Linelight takes these simple mechanics and builds an impressively complex series of puzzles around them. Switches tripped by either the player or enemy segments can extend, rotate or shrink sections of the environment, leading to more complicated puzzles.
Again, the visual design, in all its pleasant simplicity, is key here. More purely abstract puzzle offerings like TIS-100 left me frustrated, but Linelight offers just enough geometry for my brain to grasp the spatial concepts at play – though occasionally I would have to step away for a little while and come back to solve a particularly difficult puzzle.
Deserves the Limelight
Despite the mental work-out required for tougher sections, playing Linelight is a relaxing experience, thanks to both its soft spaced-out visuals and its pleasant, piano-tinged ambient soundtrack.
It’s also charming, the apparent mindless behavior of “enemy” line segments nonetheless creating an illusion of life – even an entire ecosystem – rendered in sparse two-dimensionality.
Don’t be fooled by the minimalist presentation or your preconceived notions of what makes a “puzzle game.” Linelight is a brilliant experience and deserves a wide audience.
Linelight is available via the PlayStation Store and Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Linelight below: