There are so many racing games out now that it’s difficult for anything to stand out, especially on PC. If you go onto Steam and have a browse through the racing genre, you’d probably still be going through each game a year from now. Okay, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration. Ten years from now…
Developers Lost in the Garden have obviously also noticed this trend and gone for something a bit different. Lightfield offers “parkour-inspired precision racing” in a futuristic setting, with the HYPER Edition adding in a few improvements over its console counterparts, namely a new campaign mode, local multiplayer and some new tricks.
The first overriding feeling as I entered my first race in Lightfield was how polished everything felt. It runs incredibly smoothly, with the UI adopting the popular minimalist look to great effect. It’s a joy to play and watch, and as you zoom through the levels at high speeds, bouncing off walls and snapping onto all manner of surfaces, you get a feeling of being in something like a slightly brighter version of Tron.
Lightfield is very easy to play, but challenging to master. I wouldn’t recommend playing with a keyboard as it gets far too fiddly, but when you’re using a controller there’s only two buttons you’ll need: Shoulder buttons to go, and A (or B) to snap onto surfaces (if you’re using an Xbox controller, anyway). There’s no brake button, so if you come up to a particularly tight corner you can just release the shoulder button and turn with the analogue stick and you’ll do a nice drift, earning a little boost too.
The worlds are very open, and if you’re a serious player then you’ll be happy to know that you can go off and explore them before getting into races to familiarise yourself. There’s a time trial mode as well, which lets you race against ghost data so you can try to improve your times. All of this is needed as when you get further into the game against more challenging AI, you’ll really need to have memorised the stages and the best routes to go through them.
That’s probably the best part of Lightfield: You can make your own paths through stages. Snapping up against different surfaces all the way through to give yourself boosts is very rewarding. Crashing isn’t the end of the world as your ship quickly regenerates, but it does mean you will find yourself a couple of seconds behind, which can be the difference when against HYPER opposition (the top difficulty). You lose your built up HYP, too, measurable from the bottom left. This dictates your speed, and is easily built up again by snapping onto something.
After a while, you’ll be all over the map finding ledges to boost from in order to get your times down. However, this comes with a warning from me: If you suffer from motion sickness, this may not be the game for you. Some games do trigger me in this way and Lightfield was no different, at least for the first couple of times I played. The camera rotates when you snap to objects that are rotated at different angles, so if you’re flying through a dense area, the camera can end up all over the place. It was a double whammy: I started feeling sick, and also kept getting lost. If this was in VR, it would be a true hurl-fest.
The campaign mode offers some challenging stages, which are ultimately just the same few missions in different stages: Flying around locating randomly placed stars, snapping onto as many different surfaces as you can, drifting for as long as possible, and general racing. There’s enough variety in the mix that it isn’t so repetitive. Along with the campaign, there’s a normal race mode with several difficulties available, along with multiplayer. There’s local split screen for up to four players, or online multiplayer with support for up to six racers.
Unfortunately, I never did get into an online match because the matchmaking never found me a match, which is disappointing. On PC, the all-time peak has been just 10 concurrent players, so it is little wonder why I never found a match. There are only a handful of times I can see where there have been two concurrent players, according to Steam Charts.
That’s really all there is to Lightfield. It’s a really nice idea, presented with lovely graphics and a nice UI. It’s not a game you will spend hours upon hours on, but it’s a solid parkour-inspired game that you can dip in and out of and enjoy the thrill of hopping off walls in your anti-gravity ship. Just a shame that it isn’t more popular.
Lightfield HYPER Edition (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Highly polished and with beautiful presentation, this futuristic parkour-inspired game is a true unique take on the genre – not something that can be said often. If you like Wipeout, you will definitely enjoy this.