Killer robots, a post-apocalyptic world, future robot killing sci-fi flashlights, what’s not to love about the new puzzle game by Big Robot Ltd? The Light Keeps Us Safe is a puzzle game with some aspects of the survival horror genre mixed in for a little extra fun.
After waking up in an empty bunker with no supplies left, you’re contacted by a voice directing you to find the nearest anti-robot device and subsequently instructed how to use it in a short but effective tutorial. From here you’re left to your own devices to explore the surrounding area and gather food, bandages and components to upgrade your super-duper flashlight of doom. Some of these upgrades include a laser beam of death, a black light that reveals invisible enemies and structures and even a light that disintegrates certain rather annoying obstacles.
The areas you can explore are procedurally generated so everything is a little different each time you go out. Though the basic premise of using your flashlight to solve puzzles and disorient enemies is still prevalent, what exactly you do and where you’ll be doing it changes dramatically every time you leave the bunker. Don’t forget to forage for food and bandages, though; trash cans are a surprisingly good source of nutrition in the post-apocalyptic world.
As for the enemies you’ll largely be avoiding, there’s actually a fairly wide variety. From the cowardly sentry turrets to the relentless “mothership”, as we liked to call it, you’ll be avoiding all manner of robots and robot-based traps.
Of course being an early access game means there are several little glitches to be found, one of which led to the “Spaghetti Monsters.” Originally we dubbed these “Seekers” as they were robots that looked like something straight out of The Matrix and tended to slowly work their way in whatever direction you were in. They would’ve been one of the hardest and most terrifying enemies in the game hands down if it wasn’t for the fact that you could sometimes see their tentacle arms noodling above their heads from 3 miles away, hence the change from “Seekers” to “Spaghetti Monsters.” On top of that small bug in the model, the Spaghetti Monsters also had a tendency to fly off into space for no particular reason, never to be seen again. This made parts of the game that likely would’ve been challenging into something quite trivial, or randomly get you killed when you walk into an area without a Spaghetti Monster, only to have it suddenly return from one of its magical space journeys and get you from behind.
Aside from this, the lighting wasn’t the greatest. I understand that Big Robot was going for the “dark and spooky” feel but there still needs to be at least enough light to see all the spooky things in the first place to properly get that effect. Some of the enemy designs could’ve been a little better as well. Maybe it was the point, but some of the game’s precious few lights could be easily mistaken for certain killer robots and vice-versa, leading to a waste of time and flashlight power trying to avoid otherwise harmless scenery.
While the procedural generation was a surprisingly good choice for a puzzle game, it did lead to some unexpected consequences. Providing a new puzzle every time you play means the game never gets old, but there were several occasions where a tree would spawn inside a building, preventing entry to escape robots or stopping us from getting much-needed survival supplies. Additionally, the narrative in place at the start of the game promises an interesting story and explanation as to how this apocalypse was brought about, but fails to deliver at this time. The game is still in early access however and is constantly receiving updates. It’s very likely the story will be expanded as development continues.
Despite its flaws, The Light Keeps Us Safe is an excellent puzzle game even in its current state of development. And considering it’s still very much an early access game that’s constantly being updated the few flaws it does have are hardly dealbreakers. Overall, Big Robot Ltd has made something that has a lot of promise and offers a fairly complete game experience even in early access. Who knows, perhaps in the future this will be the survival/horror equivalent of Portal? It certainly has the potential. Whether or not it goes that route, seeing where The Light Keeps Us Safe goes from here will be quite an interesting experience.