If you don't already know, Waiting for the Greenlight is a new series that focuses on games currently attempting to enter Steam by way of its Greenlight service. Similar to impressions, I give my overall thoughts on a game, and end with a simple rating (Green = Good to go, Yellow = Needs some work, Red = Too far gone to salvage). I hope you enjoy, and if you have any suggestions or games you want me to check out, don't hesitate to mention them!
If you happened to watch the trailer for indie puzzle game Overlight and are now sitting back scratching your head what exactly this game is all about, you are not alone. Going in I really had no clue what the actual gameplay was like, but thankfully things turned out to be much easier to understand than I expected.
Your goal is simple: two lasers shoot across the screen from opposite sides, and it's up to you to cause them to cross paths (don't worry Egon, everything will be fine). To do this you need to form paths by guiding to laser through Tetris inspired blocks, which act similarly to mirrors forcing the laser to change paths. When the two collide, the blocks disappear and you earn points. Rinse and repeat and you've got the gist of how to play (and you're still a little confused the in game tutorial does a much better job explaining everything).
As of its current build you only have two modes to choose from: arcade and time attack. Arcade as you might expect, asks you to gain points to advance through a series of levels. The problem here is twofold: first, all of the levels feel rather similar to each other. I didn't notice much of any difference in either difficulty or overall block design in the six that I played (there are ten total). Second, I had very little motivation to keep playing due to the fact that there doesn't appear to be any way to lose. You might get stuck for a bit on a stage because you can't earn points quite as fast as you lose them for clearing blocks, but otherwise you can go on more or less indefinitely.
For me, I like my puzzle games quick and simple to jump in and out of, and Overlight doesn't allow me to do that. It took almost half an hour just to complete the first six levels, and by that point I was rather sick of the playing. Having an option to save and quit is greatly needed, as I don't expect many will have the patience to actually play for such long periods of time.
Luckily, Time Attack fairs much better. It's a no frills 5-minute dash to get as many points as you can, and much more inline with what I was hoping for. Still, the absence of a countdown timer or even a warning sound is a bit annoying and it also makes the ending of the round feel abrupt, taking away from that last minute adrenalin rush puzzle games so easily induce.
Simple things such as this are ultimately the only real problems I have with the game. Additional modes are currently in the works as well, so it's good to see the developer is devoted to updating and improving the game. It's also worth noting that what I played is an alpha build, so likely many of the rough edges will be sanded down by the time the full release comes around.
One area that needs very little work though is the presentation. The graphics are extremely bright and colorful, and it wouldn't be unfair to label it an epileptic nightmare. They look gorgeous, and animations are extremely smooth, and everything looks surprisingly polished for a Unity game. Complementing the graphics is an upbeat electronica soundtrack which perfectly matches the look and feel of the game. Sound effects are used surprisingly well to enhance the gameplay, getting louder and more intense the bigger the combo you get and adding a lot to the overall experience. All together it looks and sounds good enough to easily stand alongside its contemporaries in the genre, and is a huge plus to counter the negatives previously mentioned.
In the end Overlight definitely has potential. The basic mechanics are solid, the presentation is fantastic, and there is ample room for it to grow, but right now it still needs some work. Neither of the two modes offer much reason to go back, and it didn't take long for the lack of a possibility for failure to cause me to burn out. I'm very eager to see what happens in future updates, and really hope the developer can manage to fix these issues, but taken for what it currently is I'm not sure it's worth your time.
The Light is: Yellow
The basic foundation is solid, but either a lack of polish, bugs, and/or compelling gameplay hold it back from being truly great. Needs a little more time in the oven before getting on Steam.