Starman: Tale of Light – Puzzles & Confusion

Dec 16, 2017

Starman: Tale of Light is a puzzle game that brings the atmosphere and gameplay mechanics of such games as Mountain Valley to what appears to be outer space.

Alone. All alone in an abandoned world. Not a person alive left, only the broken down, alien technology that is powered by light and convenient little boxes. All for you to puzzle out.

Starman: Tale of Light has you figuring out how to progress through a series of light-based obstacles and moving platforms. The entire purpose of these adventures seems to be to retrieve balls of light from the end of each level that, when put in the fire in between levels, create butterflies.

In your way is a series of sombre, incredibly bleak locations all powered using light-filled boxes. The player’s job is to take those boxes, imbue them with light and then put them on the power square to open a door or move a walkway to allow you to progress.

The whys and wherefores of the story itself pale in comparison to the puzzles themselves when mobile apps are concerned, so the key issue needs to be whether or not these bleak interiors housing lights and lasers is actually enjoyable to play.

... the key issue needs to be whether or not these bleak interiors housing lights and lasers is actually enjoyable to play.

Like many puzzle games, Starman: Tale of Light places a great deal of importance on the “Aha!” moment. A single, isolated puzzle separate from the all the others; the tools to complete it sit before you, yet the answer escapes you. You need to spend countless minutes fiddling with this box or this lever, hoping to suss out the answer.

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Finally, after what are hopefully mere minutes in a good game (and perhaps dozens in a bad one), you realise where you’ve gone wrong all along – the answer is right there in front of you! Aha!

That Starman: Tale of Light manages to cultivate this Eureka moment so well is a great testament to its puzzle design, but what many games struggle with is the intervening minutes before this great satisfactory relief.

In Starman, the answer sometimes just feels too convoluted.

In Starman, the answer sometimes just feels too convoluted.

Any short puzzle game needs to continuously add new features and ways of solving puzzles as the game progresses, but the introduction of them is incredibly important. In Starman: Tale of Light, you suddenly find yourself needing to figure out levers; now, you’re trying to angle a box to tip over into a pit at just the right angle, without it touching the anti-light beams.

There’s too much going on all the time and every puzzle feels different. That is normally a good thing, but with such a short experience – barely 2 hours of solid gameplay – the player tends to feel frustrated. You never properly get a chance to show off your skills that you’ve learned through trial and error.

Starman: Tale of Light struggles to keep its players happy with the gameplay because the entire experience tends to feel frustrating; when you finally work out the ending, the relief you feel is fantastic. You’ve done it!

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The problem is all those minutes in between when you’re just constantly frustrated.

Our Rating

The ascetic is beautiful and sombre. The relief you feel at finally beating a puzzle is monumental.The puzzles feel frustrating far too frequently. The continuous addition of new mechanics clutters the puzzles.
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