Developed and self-published by the small indie studio The Wild Games, My Very Own Light is positioned as an open world adventure game packed with puzzles, a bit like The Witness, minus the finesse that said. Well, on the other hand, I am making the comparison but the software clearly does not have this pretension since it is eyeing a much more minimalist aspect and a much more murky atmosphere. A nice project on paper, but the mayonnaise still has to set, and this is not always the case.
Doctor, I have the impression that I am missing something …
My Very Own Light bazards the player in his world, without any staging or information on what is happening to us. We find ourselves at the controls of a poor fellow tied to a torture table. Our screen is divided vertically in two and if one of the halves allows us to move our unfortunate hero, the other part shows us a simple door. It is only after a few minutes that we will understand that this second portion of the screen is actually the vision of our brain.
Because yes in MVOL, our character, guinea pig of scary experiences, no longer has his brains and it is held prisoner in a lantern that we will embark with us. So you can imagine that the developers have bet fully on this feature and throughout the adventure we will have to play with this possibility of being able to place our cerebellum in key places in order to have vision, or by using the weight of the lantern to activate mechanisms for example. A rather interesting element which will bring a lot of substance to certain puzzles, but which also brings an almost constant discomfort to an already particularly heavy atmosphere.
We are not far from the horror game
My eyes are itchy and I’m numb …
In this regard, we are not far from the horror game. The software is particularly dark and opts for a visual cachet close to the diorama with a constant blur effect which increases the feeling of miniaturization. The paintings that we will cross are all very different (castle, lab, cursed garden, cave, etc.) but also very narrow, anxiety-provoking and rather successful. MVOL has an already very atypical premise but it drives the point home with a singular artistic direction, and which will clearly not appeal to everyone given its “old school” dimension reminiscent of the good old nascent 3D of the last century.
It’s quite special to see, the modeling of the characters and the environment is rather crude, the volume and light effects act weird, but it works quite well after all. What does not work, however, is this damn camera almost glued to the back of our avatar’s head. Already the maps are narrow, but with a camera so close sometimes it’s hell to find your way around, especially since the display distance is ridiculous (due to the blur) and our character moves like a dump truck. You have the impression of playing a tank whose turret struggles to turn properly and honestly, it quickly becomes a plague. Needless to say, the simple act of jumping or overcoming an obstacle turns out to be a real sport. No luck, exploration is central in the software and many puzzles require us to tread on wooden crates or climb entire sections of the scenery to reach hidden areas.
Clever and well done puzzles
Besides, I have a headache when I think
This is what can very quickly drive you nuts. My Very Own Light opts for an adventure totally devoid of ATH or highlighted objects. The game dumps us in the middle of its hell and asks us to use our sense of observation and our reflection to complete the journey and it is a commendable bias, The Witness had made so many somewhere else. Except that it’s anything but funny to move around in such circumstances, especially when you don’t really know where to go and what to do. Ultimately, it’s a double obstacle course.
We therefore face a certain difficulty, due to the exploration and the freedom that is offered to us, while struggling with disastrous movements and an army of bugs.. If some of them have been resolved during the writing of this test, others persist, such as collision concerns, a framerate that still has incomprehensible drops (rare, but very present), scripts that have trouble to launch at times … Sometimes you have to hang on to find the motivation to continue, in particular when we know that the software promises several tens of hours of play (it all depends on your ability to get out of your quagmire).
Sometimes we hurt each other, but we like it, who knows why
Too bad because the puzzles are clever, from time to time pervert, and above all rake a wide area of skills. There are pure and hard puzzles based on understanding texts, puzzles based on physics or light effects, but also more complex situations forcing us to explore the environment well, find a certain logic and apply it by experimenting a little. Nothing insurmountable that said, but it is clearly obligatory to think, without any in-game help other than sometimes salutary scraps of paper which also offer bits of cryptic lore..
Sometimes, you can also come face to face with native friends or enemies. The nice people will lavish their services on you by giving you objects for example, the poor are however decked out in dialogues which border on the ridiculous. It’s hard to say if it’s real second degree failure or a French location in the throes of disaster, but in any case, it falls flat. Same story with enemies elsewhere, with the difference that they will jump at you by the throat, triggering then fights… particular.
These take place in turn, a single line of text will tell you what your opponent intends to do or in what state he is (tired, on the defensive …) and you will then have to react accordingly via a handful of ‘actions: attack, parry, dodge, wait … We could also see these clashes as small puzzles too since it will be up to you to find the right answers to the behavior of your opponent, or to create openings for yourself after analyzed his way of acting. Note that you can use different objects to attack or defend yourself, objects that you will generally have to find in the surroundings.
But despite all these shortcomings, My Very Own Light has a little taste of coming back to it, it leaves a bitter note in the mouth, of course, but we come back anyway to go even further., discover passages, solve puzzles that we had skipped and discover pieces of lore scattered here and there. We hurt ourselves sometimes, but we like it, go find out why.