I was going to play more Assassin’s Creed Odyssey today, but instead I played She and The Light Bearer. I saw Cassandra Khaw tweeting about it, and was lured by the promise of a point-and-click adventure “thick with story” that’s inspired by Indonesian folk lore.
As you’d expect from folk lore, the overarching story (as told by a grandmother to four children of varying levels of reluctance) is fairly conventional: a firefly known as the Light Bearer is on a quest to find a magical godlike figure called Mother, and save the forest by proving that they have hope and wisdom, through the use of things like light and music. But the writing is vivid, verging on poetic in its descriptions of the beautifully drawn forest.
The puzzles themselves are never too challenging, and include familiar mechanics like rotating rings to line up the picture, memory games, and generally clicking on things until something happens. Everything clickable is highlighted, and there’s never too much backtracking through the different parts of the forest.
What I imagine I’ll remember most about this game, however, is the characters. Though you can reach the end in an hour or so, you really get to know the characters you meet, and even come to care about their fates as you get closer to your goal. There’s Orchid, secretive and overly focused on making itself laugh with puns. And the shouty but surprising Mushroom. I was less fond of the Reed, the pensive riddler who speaks like Yoda. But my favourite was Gloomy, a flower who has undergone a severe knock to their self-confidence and needs to be handled with care.
Recommended if you want to look at some nice pictures, listen to some nice music, and gently convince a gloomy flower that it isn’t as useless as it thinks it is.