Developer: Lost In The Garden
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Platforms Available: Xbox One, Playstation 4
Recently this year I got the chance to meet with Simon Waller, game designer and co-founder of Lost In The Garden at PAX West in Seattle to try out Lightfield for the first time. Known as a hyperfuturistic ship racer with no boundaries. This was a racer that really stood out to me and probably my most anticipated game to play throughout the others I’ve written about from this convention.
Which you can read here: Lightfield Is A Great Way To Bring Splitscreen Back
Lightfield is felt to be a game well worth talked about, as it’s my first game to review for the 3+ years I’ve been writing for Rectify Gaming. This review is based on me “finishing it”, which in other words means unlocking all seven maps that were available in the game as there’s no real end to this game. And I mean literally. There are zero invisible walls, no guide rail you’re set on, absolute freedom. Unless you attempt to escape the world, then you’ll be disintegrated in the atmosphere. Lightfield has you play by using the triggers for acceleration/fly and either A, B, X, Y (Xbox One) or X, O, ▲, ■ (Playstation 4) to snap onto any surface to maintain your speed. Combining the two is tricky, but easy enough to understand over time.
Each map is unique in it’s own way, geographically diverse by being made up of different floating structures and outer space-esc formations. And I really emphasize when I say MAP and not track as this game is a racer. Racing on one of the maps I noticed some type of blinking item that I flew to from the main track. Soon to find out that there were more of these ‘stars’ placed around the map and placing me into Exploration Mode. Which actually took me by surprise as I continued collecting more of the stars. As I progressed through the game, the more complex the maps tracks got, so did the structure of the map. That these maps didn’t have a simple wall blocking the emptiness behind them for the player to fall through if finding a way to break the tracks boundaries. It’s encouraged to go out and explore. There’s even treasures that you can find on your own, as stars have a waypoint after collecting the first one on the map. One item that can endlessly be collected are these polygons laid throughout the track are called Photons.
Photons are the games most common way of earning XP to progress and unlock more maps. Photon Storms (large, green, transparent polygons) are also placed on some tracks, giving the player a speed boost and additional XP for flying through them. Which brings us to the real gameplay in the game, racing. Races are based on four tiers: Beginner, Advanced, Pro and Hyper. Completing 3 laps on the map’s track will give you either a bronze, silver or gold medal depending on your final position. In addition to racing there is time trials as well for each map also. You must compete against CPU ships set at different difficulties, that I listed before, and for each you finish the track in one lap you will earn XP. After each lap the random CPU that race along with you will be one of the set times you made and races against you as you continue the time trial. But this is where I’ve noticed some problems in the game.
Some tracks have something similar to the Photon Storm, but clear, placed at certain areas of the track. When flown through them shifts structures to alter the map and create different paths to finish the track. When doing a time trial on one of the tracks, the CPU ships would follow the track on the path as if the other track was activated progressing more ahead of me unfairly. But it’s understandable for a time trial, it’s only one lap and I can just hit it in the next lap. But it occurred during a 3 lap race also, during the second lap even though I never changed the track layout. Giving the CPU ship an unfair advantage and winning the race.
Despite that, racing & time trails overall was enjoyable and diverse enough when choosing different paths to find what benefits me most. What fancied me most was between Advanced and Pro as I’d score one or the other during time trials. But was unable to reach anywhere close to Hyper as maintaining speed seemed to be a major issue and was pretty difficult to do. Racing in larger areas where I don’t snap to any platform and left flying had me in a bigger panic compared to more narrow routes where I felt more in control, even though it was more intense being surrounded my only platforms.
When racing, noticing the neon lights, how the light trails follow the race ships as I play through a certain race is extraordinary. Lightfield itself is a beautiful game when it comes to color. How it works so well with the world they created; the composition of floating futuristic structures, extraterrestrial constructs and the light from your ship reflecting off the surface you snap to can give goosebumps. Even the ships you race as are crafted well, even with the lack of diversity in personalization besides the color you’re set to. It’s a dead give away that a lot have went into the art direction of the game to give off an aesthetic craving for more tron-like visuals. I accidentally found out after going idle on my controller that the game sets to a cinematic-type mode, showing different angles of the track that made me stop and just let in the view.
But not only does Lightfield look good, it also sounds great too. The sound of the race ships weaving as you turn and hearing the wind run through as you jump from a ledge or do a trick is also really satisfying. What really makes this game complete is the soundtrack that they have: it even comes with a playlist tab in the pause menu to see what song it is and to skip to the next song. All music for the game was created by Viennese musician Zanshin. From intense moments of percussion beats to slow, more grim rhythms to ease the racing down a notch until the beat drops back to intensity. It all sets the abstract world Lost In The Garden have made. This is all something you’d want to share with a friend or two or three to enjoy.
Lightfield can be played up to four players in local splitscreen and it’s completely seamless. No load time for the player to join or restart your race/time trial to join either. The new player will take the position of the random CPU in the race and can play from there. For online multiplayer there’s no matchmaking as of yet, but you can invite your friends to play together.
As a whole, Lightfield is a game that brings a new level to racers that has never been touched. With the flaws that were present when I’ve played, it is still worth a try to get your hands on. Even if it’s a game for only when you have people over, this is something that you do not want to miss out on.
- Great aesthetics
- Diverse game mechanics
- Energetic electro soundtrack
- Tough to maintain controls
- Off CPU