A Light in the Dark was originally released onto Steam on the 15th of June in 2018 by developers CreSpirit, Storia, and Narrator. It is now making its way onto the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4. This interactive visual novel has you taking on the role of Hao-Chen Jiang, a student from a well-off family, whose father is the CEO of a big company. One night after leaving cram school, Hao-Chen is kidnapped and held hostage in an old run-down apartment that smells of decay and smoke. He has no recollection of what happened to get him here, and who would be behind the kidnapping.
We soon meet the girl who is responsible for this act. She is the total opposite of Hao-Chen — she is poor, struggling to survive, and desperate enough to kidnap someone in hopes that she can get some money from a ransom. Hao-Chen has never had to worry about not having money, a house above his head, or being hungry because he doesn’t have food. Their lives couldn’t be any different. The kidnapper targeted Hao-Chen for numerous reasons, primarily because of his father being rich, but living on his own and having a very set schedule made him an easy target.
As you play you learn that there are two kidnappers working together to keep you hostage. So any thoughts of trying to escape while the main girl is gone are extinguished and the fact both are armed with knives; there's a good chance you won’t be going anywhere until the ransom money is paid. Besides the main visual novel gameplay, the game also has an action mode that gives you three options that you can perform:
Chat — talk to your kidnapper about a few topics so that can get you more information about the person themselves so you can try to connect with her, or just about the situation you're currently in.
Observe — look at the room you are in and the objects within it, maybe there is something you can use.
Rest — restore your stamina.
If you choose to Chat with the kidnapper, a Talk Mode opens. There will be a few different topics that you can select to talk about. These choices will change as you progress in the story. You can’t sit and contemplate what you should say for an extended period of time, you have a couple seconds to figure it out, as the kidnapper will get impatient and annoyed. The worst part is if you don’t select fast enough, a selection will be picked for you, and it may not be the correct option for that situation. Your priorities are to learn as much information as possible, replenish your stamina, and figure out a way to escape. The options you select can have consequences, so choose wisely.
The artwork in this game is beautiful and really represents not only how the characters look, but portrays their feelings quite well. The soundtrack for the game is pretty catchy and captures the emotions that Hao-Chen is feeling, as he's trapped in a room with his captors debating if he is going to be nice to them or if he is going to be sassy and try to escape. Your actions determine if they like you more, or if they will hate you even more than they already do. The music does a great job of portraying how tense your predicament is and how those characters feel about you.
A Light in the Dark isn’t a long game, it can be completed in as little as two and a half hours, but the game has multiple endings that you can get depending on the selections that you make, so there is replayability here that lets you learn more about the main characters and how your choices affect the other people in the game.
I don’t want to spoil much more about the story, especially since it is already quite short. I do appreciate how you see how the preconceived opinions that Hao-Chen and his kidnapper have about each other change as they spend time together and interact. He’s not just a spoiled kid and she’s not just a criminal who wants his money. The English translation of A Light in the Dark is done very well. During my playthrough, I didn’t find any errors or sentences that were worded in strange ways. This visual novel is written really well, the story is very interesting, and I like how you got to select your words guessing how your kidnappers would react.
The game is quite short, but I feel that is better than having a story that goes on for way too long. Having multiple endings that you can get was appreciated to show how good or poorly things go for all the characters. There is no one true happy ending, but based on the overarching story, I can’t really think of any realistic way it could. If you are looking for an interesting visual novel where your choices instantly make a difference, check out A Light in the Dark, it is definitely worth the few hours of your time.
A Light in the Dark (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
A Light in the Dark is a great visual novel with an interesting story and segments where you have to interact with the characters to alter what happens. It is pretty short, but there are multiple endings that tell more of the stories of both the hostage and his captors.