DEVELOPER: My Dog Zorro
REVIEW PLATFORM: Steam
OTHER PLATFORMS: PS4
There's a soft spot in my heart for puzzle games, partially because I like to feel smart once in a while beyond book reading, and partially because I like a challenge that doesn't involve shooting as my main objective. Last year one of the best puzzlers I was able to get my hands on was Road To Ballhalla where you navigated a marble through a series of challenging mazes. Much in that same vein, My Dog Zorro recently released title within the same puzzle family called Linelight.
Linelight is pretty straightforward as you take on the role of a small beam of light. Nothing fancy or dramatic about it, it's a white line of light that occupies about ¼ inch of space on the screen. You are placed along a thin white track which you must navigate to each destination, hitting up checkpoints and different avenues along the way. Some of the paths are as simple as switch challenges where you have to figure out the sequence of events needed to get the path created. Others are set up so that you need red enemy lights that can destroy you to activate other areas or retrieve a key in order to unlock a new area.
As far as the challenge aspect goes, everything is pretty middle-of-the-road. You're not slammed with a ton of easy puzzles, nor are you left stuck with difficult puzzles that take great care and engineering to figure out. Everything has a solution that just takes a little patience and some brain power to work out. Eventually, you discover that the lines you're following make up a giant maze that resembles a circuit board, with many winding paths that take you to different areas and unlock aspect to the maps that you haven't explored before. It's an interesting aspect to puzzle play that other games rarely explore.
The real challenges come when you have to learn automatic cooperation. There will be sections of the game where you're paired with an orange beam of light that acts as a companion, or a smaller white light that acts like a child version of you. The puzzles become much more intricate and you need to work together in order to unlock the path ahead. Sometimes you're in control of your newfound teammate, other times you need to adjust your thinking to flow with their movements. At a certain point, it becomes less about you and more about teamwork, while everything is still being managed by you. It's a cool dynamic that can mess with you.
The other aspect of the game that stood out was the music. It's very calming and soothing soundtrack with mellow beats and a no-pressure overtone that gives you a sense of relief as you play. There's no ramping up the aggression when you hit areas that cause a challenge, it's essentially mood music for riddle solving. If I ever decided to drop acid in the middle of the game it would probably be one of the most chill trips I ever took while acting like a beam of light.
Linelight is a fantastic puzzle game. Maybe not one of the most dynamic ever created, certainly not one of the biggest befuddling messes you'll ever come across, but it's far from being a cakewalk. If you want a nice side game in the middle of the day to challenge yourself and prove that you're not just a drone who needs a gun and a target to entertain yourself, this is the one to put in that slot.
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