Originally released in 2012 as The Light, In Rays of the Light, published by Sometimes You, is a self-guided walking simulator. Playing as a solo man with no indication on where to go or what to do, the ultimate goal is to explore an abandoned city block that is empty, dreary, but still creepily beautiful.
There is no combat, no monsters to kill, and no stats to upgrade. Some players might be turned off by the lack of action but it makes up for it with environmental puzzle solving. Starting in a building, the player will eventually find a way out, venture to the basement to turn on the power, and start exploring more and more. Atmospheric, this is a game that looks realistic. The light from your lighter will bounce off walls and only extend so far. The world outside looks like it was bustling with life at one point as dilapidated vehicles litter the road and graffiti and plant life have become one with concrete walls. I kept waiting for a zombie or Silent Hill demon to scare the crap out of me but it remains uncannily PG throughout.
Admitting, I got stuck on a few occasions but there are numerous guides posted online. Many puzzles don’t have to be completed in a specific order either. Sure, there is recommended path but the player can venture at their own pace and might even receive a different ending. This is a game about exploring and experimenting after all and for that, it hits the nail on the head.
Unfortunately, for me, the game become unplayable after toughing it out for over an hour. Why? The first person camera. There is a strange delay when you move the right analog stick to adjust the perspective complete with a bob movement. This camera gave me a pretty bad case of nausea and had to stop playing, having a headache that lasted for a couple hours afterward. Honestly, I wish I could finish this game, as I wanted to learn more about this mysterious environment and see how it ends, but am physically unable to continue. If you sensitive to motion sickness like me, be weary.
On the other hand, if you don’t get seasick when playing games and like a silent narrative told through environmental puzzling solving, there is something here that stands out. For a game that has no people or spoken dialog, there is a lot of story happening here and it is thanks to the detailed visuals, the power of the Xbox Series X/S, and some thoughtful environmental design.
Also Try: Gone Home
Don’t Forget About: What Remains of Edith Finch
Wait For It: RiME 2