Games featuring moustachioed and be-goggled light bulbs are a rare breed indeed, but fortunately Once Upon a Light has a great deal more to offer than merely an unusual hero. It takes the physics-based flinging of Angry Birds, subtracts the wanton destruction but adds in more thoughtful and cunning tricks to create a rewarding puzzler that sits perfectly at home on mobile devices.
A charmingly bizarre animated intro sequence sets the tone from the start, where players are introduced to Eddie, the aforementioned anthropomorphic light bulb, and his steampunk-inspired world. Following the kidnapping of his beloved (also a light bulb), Eddie must embark on an epic journey to save her from the clutches of whatever foul fiend saw fit to separate them. This basically involves hurling Eddie around a series of maze-like constructions, bouncing him off walls, both static and moving, while making use of rotating gears, electrical charging devices and other assorted aids in order to get him to the exit.
Early levels are straightforward enough, giving players time to get used to the simple controls, but new elements are introduced regularly to ramp up the challenge. Individual levels are well designed, often with more than one possible route through, and that often elusive one-more-go factor is to be found in abundance here. Later levels are particularly devious in their layout, requiring perfect timing, planning, and some hefty amounts of lateral thinking in order to complete successfully. Failure only inspires further attempts, safe in the knowledge that you’ll get it right this time and it really is all too simple to succumb to the game’s charms.
Eddie himself makes for a thoroughly endearing hero and as his story unfolds through the gorgeous cut scenes, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can become attached to an electrical appliance. In-game graphics are plain and unfussy, with slightly drab colour schemes, but which are perfectly serviceable and entirely in keeping with the steampunk theme. Music too has a pleasingly quirky feel, with some memorable tunes which are only disappointing in their lack of variety, while sound effects are minimal but efficient and unobtrusive. The controls are as responsive as could be hoped for, allowing for precision shots to be calculated and executed with relative ease, but without any loss of challenge.
Once Upon a Light has all the hallmarks of a classic puzzler. It is elegantly simple in concept but complex and deep enough to test anyone looking for on-the-go fun. With stylish level design, an engaging hero and a bonkers storyline, there is enough here to keep gamers entertained for some time, and there are copious amounts of levels to wade through. Although it lacks the mass appeal of the all-conquering Angry Birds, Once Upon a Light is ultimately smarter, more rewarding, and more compelling than its rival. Oh, and did I mention it has a moustachioed light bulb as a hero? I think I did, but it’s certainly a point worth reiterating.
Once Upon A Light (Reviewed on iOS)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Once Upon a Light is a delightful physics-based puzzler, packed with imagination and starring a surprisingly charismatic light bulb. For those of a slightly cerebral nature, it provides addictive gameplay in a well-rounded and good value package that refrains from pestering players with irritating in-app purchases.