Stay Alight – What We Think
Puzzle games, ranging from simple time-wasters to punishing bouts of frustration, dominate the mobile game space and now have made their way onto the Steam distribution service. Stay Alight by Wyse Games is a puzzle game about killing green blobs as a lightbulb person using colorful orbs. It’s a straightforward game that requires good timing and precision.
In Stay Alight, you play as a stationary light bulb person whose goal is to kill green blobs by throwing colored light orbs at them. There is not much else in terms of narrative setup, and the game makes no effort to provide a narrative. The lack of narrative also contributes to the game’s lack of charm. Angry Birds didn’t have much of a narrative, but there was some charm there because of the sound effects the animals would make and their expressive facial expressions. The lack of narrative and charm makes Stay Alight feel more vapid than it could have been.
Since your character is always stationary, the main gameplay mechanic involves clicking and holding while manipulating the force behind each throw by moving the mouse. There is also a helpful little dotted white line which indicates roughly what path the orb will follow. The mechanic is solid and feels good, but my only complaint is that once you’ve started holding down the mouse button, there is no way to cancel out the action if you want to. A minor complaint, but it came up often enough for me that it was noticeable.
The orbs the light bulb person throws around all have unique characteristics, and they do a decent enough job of making the gameplay feel less stale than it would be otherwise. One might explode on contact, while another will bounce a number of times and burst into two smaller orbs. The one common characteristic of most of the orbs is that they bounce off surfaces for a certain amount of time before they disappear. Since the orbs bounce, it means that you’ll be doing a lot of ricocheting off objects.
Ricocheting plays a big role in most levels, because that’s where the main challenge of the game takes place. You’ll do a lot of figuring out the right amount of force and proper angle to get that richochet you need to get the most out of each orb, hopefully killing multiple blobs with one orb. You must figure out how to kill all the blobs in a level with the limited number of orbs you have.
Beam More Diverse
Levels do a good job of mixing the game up by adding things like portals, moving blobs, rotating saw blades or timed electrical gates. One of the more unique things you’ll see in some levels is the presence of a second lightbulb person, who can be used as a secondary throwing spot if you manage to throw an orb at him. Levels feel different from one another, even if the level traps and obstacles are things that you’ve most likely seen in other puzzle games.
Stay Alight is structured like most modern mobile puzzle games after the post-Angry Birds era. Levels are rated using a three star rating system depending on how quickly you destroy all the blobs. Killing all the enemies in a level awards you one star, and the remaining orbs dictate your final score. Scores don’t have an effect on your progression (or if they do, it was unnoticeable, since I was progressing through the game with one or two star level scores).
The timing and precision needed in this game isn’t too unforgiving, either, as the game gives you a finite number of orbs to complete a level, but it doesn’t ever feel impossibly difficult. Levels are balanced well, and there is little to no frustration. It’s a good game to play in short spurts, too, since levels are small and quickly beatable.
What also helps ease frustration is the game’s soundtrack. The music in the game is very chill, somewhat ambient, with low echoed synth tones which help create a soothing mood. The in-game sound effects are very sparse and help illuminate the music even more. The game’s tone is dictated by the music and would feel less enjoyable without it.
Visually, there is not much there. Everything from the surreal environments to the blobs are rendered nicely, but it’s not particularly all that interesting to look at on its own. Most of what you see in levels is a mishmash of familiar objects hobbled together to form geometrical structures. It feels a little uninspired to me because there is no rhyme or reason to why I’m bouncing orbs off of a shoe or a black and white six-sided die.
Shine A Little Light
Stay Alight is a solid, simple puzzle game. It offers a good amount of variation thanks to its level design, but overall it feels too familiar. There are so many of these types of puzzle games out there, and if you’re a fan of these games, Stay Alight is worth a purchase because it’s good at what it does. For everyone else looking for a more unique or interesting puzzle game, you should look elsewhere.