One Upon Light (PlayStation 4) Review

By Lex Firth 30.11.2015

Review for One Upon Light on PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 has made its name as the new home of the indie game, housing console exclusives such as Rocket League, Hotline Miami, and Axiom Verge to rave reviews and high sales. The growing indie scene has led to great success from teams that aren't usually seen on mainstream store shelves, and none more so than One Upon Light, a title with a very interesting premise, and the first release from a team at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. Does One Upon Light live up to the intrigue its name suggests, though?

One Upon Light switches up one of the conventional themes of game design: in this world, darkness is good, and light is bad - deadly, in fact. In control of a scientist in a pitch-black mechanical labyrinth, the task is to navigate corridors while avoiding any semblance of light, which will kill the protagonist within just a few seconds.

It's certainly a unique approach to take, and although it's easy to understand, the developers have used this mechanic in several interesting ways. Whether it's pushing boxes, flipping switches, or timing conveyors, there are a surprising number of puzzle-solving methods, but they all pale in comparison to the Shadow Echo glove, introduced early on in the game. This allows the player to freeze shadows in place, creating pathways through previous inaccessible pools of light, and adds an extra dimension to the gameplay to prevent it from ever getting stale.

All of these mechanics are introduced organically without weighing the overall experience down with endless tutorials. Even in the case of more complicated elements, such as the Shadow Echo glove, the pace is never disrupted. The overall game length doesn't outstay its welcome with unnecessary, stale puzzles, and it's all tied together with an inconsequential, but decent enough, story, making One Upon Light an engaging game to sink teeth into over the course of a day or weekend.

Screenshot for One Upon Light on PlayStation 4

However, it's not all good - the difficulty level, for instance, is a serious detriment. There doesn't seem to be any real difficulty curve, meaning that some levels go on for far too long, with excessive trial and error marring the experience. Other levels are over too soon, and don't give more interesting mechanics a good enough run.

The puzzles themselves can also be fairly unmemorable owing to the monochrome presentation - it's a strange decision that simplifies the action, but does little to differentiate each level. The graphics may be crisp, but they certainly don't stand out. Similarly, the audio is incredibly barebones, opting for atmospheric sounds over a dedicated soundtrack. It doesn't particularly pay off, and it makes for quite the boring package.

It's very easy to recommend One Upon Light, but don't come in expecting a deep experience. It's an interesting enough game that satisfies for a few hours, but it certainly won't make a big dent in the memory. To that end, its $12 price tag is somewhat difficult to recommend for very little unique gameplay; perhaps wait for a sale before jumping into the darkness that awaits.

Screenshot for One Upon Light on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

One Upon Light is a great purchase for puzzle fans looking for something slightly different. It's an excellent first release from a previously unheard of developer, and could even be enough for Singapore to emerge as a new major contributor to the industry. It's fantastic that Rising Star Games has brought One Upon Light westward a year after its original release, and it should hopefully pave the way for new original experiences to be release here in the future.


SUTD Game Lab


Rising Star Games





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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