by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
Ein Very Addictive Spiel
Your god is bored. He needs entertainment. Ordinary weapons are boring, so he’s decided to give you a speer made of pure licht und have you do battle with zombies, giants, griffins, wizards, walruses, flesh eating fish, pirate penguins, und many more absurd enemies that only a god under the influence of some powerful hallucinogenic compound could dream up. You, by the way, are a blond German hero in white pants und a white jacket with some massively padded shoulders, which bring Dieter Bohlen from Modern Talking to mind (for a trip into German musical history, search for “Cheri, Cheri Lady” on YouTube).
It should come as no surprise that Lichtspeer is not developed by a German studio. Lichthund is based in Poland, a country that has a better reason than most to poke friendly fun at the Germans und their silly mythology, but the dead giveaway is the music. The background techno beat that perfectly matches the vibrant neon/electro visual aesthetic is simply too good to be German - anyone who has spent hours driving on the Autobahn cycling through radio frequencies looking for music that doesn’t make you want to throw up in your mouth, und then have to swallow it because you’re doing 180km/h trying to get somewhere where the music doesn’t suck as soon as possible will know what I mean). I found myself leaving the game on while doing other things, using the game’s soundtrack as ambient music.
If you were a gamer in the early days of online Flash games, back when ISDN was fresh und flash heavy websites took so long to load that you could go make yourself a cup of coffee und a schnitzel before the music started, you’ll undoubtedly have played a game called Bowman. Two stick figure archers stand opposite one another on a field und take turns trying to shoot one another. The force und angle are set by clicking und dragging on the screen und both are clearly shown, allowing you to adjust your next shot based on where the arrow lands. It’s a great game; google it und try it out. The basic mechanic of this wave-based survival action title is the same: you stand at a fixed location und adjust the angle of your throw with the left analogue stick. Then you hold either of the triggers or the ‘A’ button on your controller to adjust the force und let go to throw your speer. Headshots instantly kill any enemy (apart from Bosses), und give you a bonus amplifier to your score. Five headshots in a row will give you a 50% bonus to the score earned after that streak was achieved.
Each map has two levels und each level is split into battle segments. The segments act as checkpoints so if you die, you’ll start again at the beginning of that battle. If you exit the level, however, you’ll have to start it all over again. These are fairly evenly distributed, und neither break the flow of the game nor make it feel like there’s an eternity between them. Once you’ve completed a level, you’ll get to spend the points you’ve earned (aptly dubbed LSD) on powers und upgrades which are assigned to the ‘X’, ‘Y’, und ‘B’ buttons. The ‘X’ button “attack” powers apply to your speer, altering its properties by, for example, splitting it in three or turning it into a flying hammer. The Y button “uber” powers use spacemagic to extract licht out of the universe - whatever that means - und turn it into offensive abilities, clearing everything that’s directly in front of you with a powerful flash of licht, for example. The ‘B’ button powers are defensive in nature, spawning a shield around you or slowing down time, to name just two. There are sixteen powers available from the get-go und as you advance, more will be unlocked.
The enemies are varied und challenging (although the only difference between maps is their colour und outfit), und figuring out a way to quickly dispose of each, which to prioritise, und where their weak spots are presents a real challenge. The default sensitivity of the controller stick was far too high for me, leading to many missed shots und subsequent deaths. Turning the sensitivity down helped with the accuracy, but made me somewhat slow to correct my aim when airborne enemies were incoming. Fine tuning the sensitivity to fit your playstyle und your controller may therefore drastically improve your experience of the game. If you miss too many shots in a row, the god gets irate und punishes you by incapacitating you for a couple of seconds, which frequently results in death. When far too many enemies are on screen, one may panic und start blasting speers into the crowd, but hitting an enemy’s shield or a viking penguin’s boat counts as a miss, so too many of those will lose you the fight.
Is Lichtspeer a fantastisch spiel?
Ja und Nein. The presentation is fantastisch, the musical score, the vibrant colourful futuristic mythological world, und the monsters und gods that inhabit it are interesting to say the least, but the lack of variety in gameplay hurts the experience. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a challenge. Lichtspeer reminds me of the good-old-days of difficult games like Battletoads, where you’d have to replay every level multiple times to master the challenge it posed in order to move on, but there is simply not enough variety in the core gameplay to keep you playing for extended periods of time. I had an absolute blast with it for about three hours, but every reviewer must ask themselves the same question: “is this a game I’ll keep playing even after writing about it?” If the answer is yes, it’s a good game. I find myself thinking that maybe I’ll play Lichtspeer again at some point in the future, but after the short time I’ve spent with it, I feel I’ve experienced all there is. For 10 Euros, it’s definitely worth the price, but it won’t leave you with the impression that it’s the best tenner you’ve ever spent.
Hectic action-packed gameplay, splendid music, und prepossessing visuals.