In the 1980s and early 1990s, it was hard to go to the store to buy a video game. No, it wasn’t dangerous, but there was often very little information other than pretty illustrations on the front of the box and a few paragraphs of text and screenshots on the back. Of course, there weren’t many video game magazines to point you in the right direction, and you could get lucky if you rented the title in advance to make sure it was what you wanted, but there was a very real risk of burning $50 to find out the game was a piece of shit.
Today, we have many ways to research a game before we put our money where our mouth is, for example. B. by watching games on YouTube, reading reviews like this one or maybe even downloading a demo to try the game before buying it. But sometimes a new game still hits you with pretty screens or enticing previews. In the case of Gleamlight, I was drawn to the idea of an unspoken story (Metroid) with a beautiful stained glass background and no user interface taking up part of the screen. If it all looks good on paper, the game should be fun, and therein lies the problem. Unfortunately, Gleamlight makes the Cardinal’s sin boring when everyone else is gone. This is the death knell for this industry.
When the Gleamlight was first shown, many comparisons were made to the Hollow Knight. This is mainly because visually a similar color scheme was used and the main character and attacks also looked somewhat familiar. Aside from the fact that this game looks like another, it doesn’t work like that at all. You control Gleam, who at first glance reminds me of Orko, the flying wizard who used to wrestle with He-Man. Oh how I wish we could play like Orko, because at least he has an identity. From the start of the game, I was unimpressed with what I was seeing and playing. The game’s visuals, while appealing at first glance, quickly become dull and boring. The whole presentation looks like some kind of soulless sci-fi flash game. It’s a simple cookie cutter, and no amount of parallax scrolling will make it prettier.
Sticking with the graphics for a moment (don’t worry, we’ll get to the extremely mediocre gameplay in a minute), all the promotional material explicitly states that everything in the game is made of stained glass. It evokes images of the fine arts, where sunlight passes through and drowns the world in a horn of abundant color. So why is this game boring and full of dark pastel colors? It’s not that pretty and it’s even worse when you start seeing animations of enemies, or lack thereof. Almost all of them repeat a lot of animated sequences, and it’s not helpful for them all to look generic from an artistic standpoint. Almost all the villains look alike, the same shades of red and grey make up all their features. When you have games like Ori and Blind Forest and the aforementioned Hollow Knight , which have an impressive variety of enemies and bosses and offer stunning views, it becomes clear that the Gleamlight has not received the same care. I’m not kidding, after only a few minutes of playing I was bored with the visuals.
The gameplay doesn’t save the game, in fact it clearly shows that it’s not fun. You have very few moves (jumping and sliding) and even when you get some enhancements like double jumping, there’s not much here to make the platformer fun. Each piece is almost identical to the previous one, and often features the same enemies you destroyed a few seconds ago. The lack of imagination in the visuals combined with below average gameplay deprives the player of all the fun they could have had outside of the game.
I was hoping for a massive Metroidvania-like game with Gleamlight, and what I got was a fairly linear and short game with few bosses to fight. Then you retreat to the same areas you don’t like anymore, and that’s really the degree. It’s not a great adventure game, but it’s not a well-executed short and sweet action game either. When you have incredible competition with games like Celeste, there is absolutely no reason to choose this game.
The final nail in the coffin for me was that the fight was so one-sided it was a chore. Because the designers were obsessed with the lack of a user interface, you have no idea how much health you have left before you die. Every time you hit an enemy, you give them back their health, but there’s no exact measure of their health, and that really bothers me. The fight against the enemies was always the same and never improved. Most of them have simple animation loops and are often even stuck in small places around them, making it easy to cut them off until they die. The bosses were a bit harder, but not because they were programmed with intriguing or fun patterns, but because the game just threw more things at you on screen to tease you.
Gleamlight had potential, and I like the idea of the stained glass and the enemies, as well as the unspoken story. The problem is that it has to be done convincingly. In the end, I didn’t care about my character and the world I was exploring was definitely growing on me. Everything seemed so general and disjointed that I had to force myself to move on. It’s not a good game by any means. All these games better be worth it: Spotted blood: Ritual Night, Monster Boy and Cursed Kingdom, Dead Cells, Hollow Knight, Iconoclasts, Yoku Island Express, Shantae : Hero half-genius, Path remastered, Mulaka, Celeste, and Dandara, to name a few.
Overview on glossy paper
- Charts – 4.5/10
- Sound – 5/10
- Gameplay – 3/10
- Late complaint – 3,5/10
Final thoughts : AFDB
Gleamlight commits the cardinal sin of gaming by being boring. There’s nothing good here, and it’s a shame because his principle seemed promising. The gameplay is boring, the graphics are generic, the artificial intelligence is terrible, the main mission is short, and all this leads to a disappointing result. It’s a very crowded market on the Switch, and you can find so many other titles worth checking out.
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently an editor and contributor to Age of Games.
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