Virtual reality gaming is territory ripe for experimentation, with developers having near limitless room to create and find new ways to engage with players. One such attempt comes in the form of Oasis Games’ Light Tracer, a platformer with a bit of a difference. Unlike standard platformers where you control a character directly, Light Tracer is a mix of guidance and control instead.
At its heart Light Tracer is a puzzle platformer where each level has obstacles and pretty simple obstructions to overcome. you’ll need two Move controllers to play, with each having its own function. In one hand players hold a staff that emits a beam of light, and it is this staff that is used to lead your character through the world. As the game’s title implies you use this staff by pressing the trigger button to set a path for the princess to follow. You have to be precise with your aim, as a moment of carelessness will see you lead her to fall off the edge of the path.
The other hand is used to change your view into the level. Pulling in the trigger and moving the Move controller allows you to rotate the stage as well as zoom in or out. It’s useful in finding new perspectives, but can also be rather finicky and it’s sometimes tough to return to a viewpoint you had before. Luckily you can reset the view by pressing the circle button.
There are eight chapters in total and each has its own environment type, which in turn determines the traps that lie in wait for the princess. However they’re not tough to get passed and most levels can be beaten within a few minutes. What is really annoying, infuriating actually, are the boss battles found within Light Tracer.
For some strange reason Light Tracer lacks any indicator of how much damage you’ve done to a boss, with no health bar or change in appearance from the boss. You don’t know whether you’ve taken away 10% of its health or 90%. Honestly Light Tracer would have been a much better experience without the boss fights, which suck the fun right out, but if developers will insist on having boss battles, then they need to have this indication of health or damage.
While Light Tracer is a decent experiment in what can be done with VR, it doesn’t really draw you in. Being able to turn the puzzle about and trace a path for the princess was interesting, but it didn’t feel fun. You do control the jump and attack moves for the princess, but combat is hardly the game’s strong point since most enemies only require a single hit with the sword. There were noticeable delays in the attack too, where I’d press the attack button, nothing would happen, and the princess would be hit and then respawn while carrying out the attack animation.
The princess herself comes across as annoying and her design is a bit excessive. She’s wearing a skirt which hitches up when she runs and when she falls over you can see her underwear. Considering this princess comes across as childlike, that felt really inappropriate. You can unlock other costumes, but I have no idea why Oasis thought the default outfit had to be designed like that, there’s no real need for it at all.
The game looks okay with each chapter’s environments being distinguishable, and having their own twists. The music jumps around through different genres stage by stage, making each track more noticeable but they do loop round pretty quickly.
Light Tracer takes an interesting approach to VR platforming and environmental puzzles, even if they are generally easy to overcome. However, it would have benefitted from removing the boss battles and the design of the princess’ outfit is questionable. There’s plenty of ways the path finding controls of Light Tracer can be used for future, better titles, but Light Tracer itself definitely needed a lot more time to feel complete.
Version tested: PSVR