Skip to content

Linelight – Minimalist puzzler, maximum impact

Developer: BT Productions
Price: $2/£2
IAP: None
Size: 177 MB
Version: 1.0


Update! Linelight has received a couple of updates since it first dropped in July 2017. Most of those were fixes, but they also include a couple of free content drops featuring additional levels.

How does it play today? Going back to Linelight has been no hardship at all. The same things that bowled us over in 2017 continue to impress in 2020, such as the friction-free accessibility, stripped-back adventure-puzzler premise, and the artfully restrained presentation. In fact, the addition of those extra levels means that it’s technically an even better game than before. We haven’t played anything since that does what Linelight does better.

Revised rating: Still a superb puzzler. ★★★★★


Our original review, written in August 2017, is presented in its entirety below.

In Linelight, developer Brett Taylor has achieved the Holy Grail of iOS puzzle games. He’s created an engrossingly rich, varied and original experience with virtually no barrier to entry.

At its core, Linelight is about guiding a tiny sliver of pixels along a continuous line using a virtual joystick. But as so often with these things, it’s the journey that counts.

Each ‘puzzle’ flows into the next

That twisting path leads through a series of junctions, splits, moving platforms and various other mechanisms. Along the way there are switches to trigger, keys to collect, and an assortment of patrolling enemies to evade.

The range of spatial and timing-based conundrums that utilize these modest components is really quite something, with each encounter evolving in natural yet frequently unexpected ways.

These red enemies become oblivious allies

For example, the red patrolling enemies are initially to be avoided, but then you’ll encounter a flurry of sections that ask you to use them to flip switches for you. Eventually, you’ll find yourself advancing in tandem with a single enemy, simultaneously fleeing and exploiting their presence. It’s brilliant.

World two introduces orange enemies who only move when you do, and things progress from there.

This is a quietly beautiful game

It’s worth mentioning Linelight’s presentation, which is as sparingly constructed and finely honed as its gameplay. The game has the look of a particularly stylish electrical diagram, with neon nodes giving off a pleasantly diffused glow.

These crisp visuals are accompanied by a fittingly sparse but jaunty soundtrack that matches the action to a tee.

All in all, it’s difficult to pick fault with Linelight. From the ability to seamlessly flip between portrait and landscape views to the way the App Store rating system has been folded into the game itself, everything has been constructed with such care and attention to detail.

Collecting the yellow dots is optional

If we were to make one criticism – and it really is just the one – it’s that the controls aren’t quite perfect. We’re still dealing with a virtual joystick here, which is never what you’d call a precision tool.

The inherently vague nature of this control method doesn’t always map well to Linelight’s pin-sharp turns. Often this isn’t an issue, but when speed and timing are of the essence – such as when being pursued by those relentless enemies – you may find that you come a cropper more often than you would like.

Even the App Store ratings screen is brilliant

Fortunately, restarts are instantaneous, and they only ever place you at the beginning of the current bite-sized conundrum. It’s a niggle, but far from a game-wrecker.

Ultimately, Linelight manages to provide a captivatingly inventive yet almost friction-free puzzler experience. Such a combination doesn’t come around very often.