Light Tracer review (PSVR)

With Light Tracer, China-based Oasis Games adds another title to their Playstation VR lineup. Here is the review.

My last appointment during Gamescom this year was with Oasis games. It was Thursday evening, people were starting to pack up or had already left, but I had one more title to look forward to. Oasis had brought a trio of titles to Germany, but I was mostly interested in Light Tracer – a new take on virtual reality gaming and, as a puzzle game, quite different from the other games Oasis had released on the platform.

Light Tracer sees you indirectly controlling a little girl as she travels upwards on a variety of towers – which get higher and more complex with each level. I say indirectly, because you control Light Tracer with a pair of move controllers and your movements don’t have any direct effect on the girl. Instead, one hand controls a magic staff that can shine a light onto the game world – which then prompts the girl to follow the light and walk towards it. This creates a demand for caution, as she’ll happily walk off a ledge for you, mesmerized as she is by your ray of light.

light tracer

Your other hand controls the level itself, mainly by grabbing the tower and turning it around so you can adjust your viewpoint – which can also be reset if you lose track. In addition, you also have the ability to manipulate sections of certain levels with this hand, which includes moving platforms up and down to serve as elevators for the little girl – who happens to also be a princess.

It’s a dynamic that takes some getting used to, partly because things can get a little unwieldy with the move controllers – especially when trying to get the camera angle just right. There is also an exception to your indirect control over the princess in that you can make her jump, although I suppose you could theoretically explain that away by saying it’s your magic staff sending out a “jump” signal. Nevertheless, this switching between direct and indirect controls can cause problems and will automatically have you taking it easy, thinking about what it is you’re supposed to do again with your controllers. It gets better later on, though hectic sections (like boss fights) can feel like it’s the controls that are your worst enemy. There’s a definite learning curve here.

light tracer3

Getting up towers is initially a case of having your princess walk along narrow pathways and collecting crystals on her way, but new dynamics are quickly introduced. This includes activating switches, timing your movements just right, and jumping onto moving platforms. Part of the challenge is always the indirect control methods as well, since by itself most of these challenges would be easy to overcome. Instead, your challenge is to make sure the princess pulls it off with you as a silent spectator with limited influence on the game world.

In the later portions of the game, some serious multitasking will be required as you keep many factors into account. Surfaces can become icy, switches can turn the gravity upside down and some tiles will have the princess bounce off them – extra tricky when she’s already in motion. Very often you’ll have a general idea of what to do, but the trick is knowing how to pull it off and then executing that to perfection. Besides a puzzle game, Light Tracer is also very much a skill-based game.

Light Tracer is quite possibly Oasis’ best Playstation VR title so far, thanks to a creative approach to puzzle/skill-based gameplay. They’re the same design choices that also cause the controls to feel a little unwieldy at times, but part of that are hardware limitations with the Move controllers and the game wouldn’t have worked without its indirect control mechanism. Recommended if you’re looking for something unique to play in VR and the patience to overcome some of Light Tracer’s challenges.

Score: 7.2/10

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