Developer: Indeep Studios
Size: 562.1 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
We can see what they were getting at. Sole Light is an isometric logic puzzler very much in the mold of Monument Valley, and its puzzles involve the commandeering of dead-eyed drones much like Inside.
What it lacks is the thematic consistency, emotional punch, and masterful grasp of atmosphere and narrative that both of those indie greats share.
There’s no denying it’s very playable, though. Sole Light sees you taking control of a character lost in an abstract labyrinth of floating platforms, dystopian murder-machines, and befuddling color-coded switches.
It’s up to you to make your way to each level’s campsite-themed exit, touching and dragging on the screen to tiptoe along precariously suspended walkways. Every move you make will see the tile behind you crumbling away, so every shuffle forwards needs to be carefully considered.
Pretty quickly you’ll be called upon to take control of the lifeless drones that populate this world. Once tapped, they will mirror your every move. Using this power you’ll need to trigger switches and gates in the appropriate sequence, all whilst leaving a clear path forward for your main character.
Developer Indeep Studios has largely nailed the difficulty level of these conundrums, providing just enough challenge to have you thinking without leaving you hopelessly stumped. There’s much talk of relaxation and calm in the app blurb, so this balance is a crucial point.
The game’s single-step back-up system can feel a little miserly at times, especially when a mistaken swipe input on one of those drones has the potential to mess up an entire level. But this is partially mitigated by a checkpoint system and relatively compact levels.
We’re not convinced by Sole Light’s world or narrative, though. As you may have picked up from the review already, there’s a real jumble of themes and signifiers at play here. Is it about a relationship gone sour? A life struck by tragedy? Or more existential concerns?
The vague quotes from famous thinkers, writers, and public figures that fill the gaps in between levels, as well as the emotive soundtrack, hint at a level of emotional depth and profundity that doesn’t feel particularly well earned.
The visual style is similarly mix-and-match. It’s rendered sharply enough, but elements of fantastical sci-fi combine with more grounded and dystopian elements. It’s all a bit of a mish-mash.
If casual isometric puzzling is what you’re after – and you’ve already blasted through the game’s influences – then Sole Light will provide more of what you crave. From a purely gameplay point of view, it perfectly fills that hole. But if you’re after something that will touch a little deeper, you may find the experience to be curiously hollow.