One Upon Light (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 22.04.2016 1

Review for One Upon Light on PC

Puzzle platformers are, at this point, a dime a dozen. Puzzle stealth games, however, are seemingly less common. While it could be argued that all stealth games have a puzzle element to them, to see that element take centre stage is fairly uncommon. One Upon Light is willing to combine the two as a true marriage of sneaking through the shadows and deducing exactly how. Can it find the perfect way to blend these two together, or is it a marriage doomed from the start?

One Upon Light begins with a simple story of a simple scientist making a catastrophic mistake. This mistake leaves him unable to withstand light touching him for more than a second or so. It's a pretty typical story for what it is: part of a slowly growing genre of Portal-esque tales that could be summarised with, "crazy science in a warehouse". Fortunately, most of One Upon Light takes place in what appears to be a sewer, or at least that's the impression it gives off.

The central mechanic, of moving in and out of the shadows, has serious ups and downs. Figuring out how to manoeuvre around the environment is a pleasant experience in most cases, even if it sticks to the tried and true formula of teaching a new mechanic each level and building upon it. There's nothing wrong with this formula. Quite the contrary, in fact; it's the perfect way to teach the player how to work within their environment. One Upon Light excels at this, and while it doesn't innovate in level design, it operates so well that it doesn't have to.

The major complaint one could levy is the light itself. In a desperate attempt to reinforce that light is bad, once the player hits any substantial light patches, they will more than likely die. The player goes from a free-moving individual to a bag of wet sand. This means that rarely the player rarely gets the chance to try and rectify their mistakes without dying. Anyone can tell you that when a game is challenging, as One Upon Light is, death should be quick, to help keep the player interested in that "one more try". Death here is slow, taking upwards of twenty seconds to play out. This includes realizing your character is doomed and hopelessly trying to change course.

Screenshot for One Upon Light on PC

Character movement is another spot of concern. Lights in the levels tend to move around rather quickly, meaning the player needs to be able to make quick decisions. While moving is fine outside of the aforementioned lights, it's pushing and pulling that suffer the greatest hardship. It would be fine if this was relatively unimportant, but it's a major mechanic that feels unrefined. Frequent deaths come from your character letting go of a box several seconds after you inform him you'd like him to, and it adds to the level of frustration. Moving around the levels is better, but frequently, moments that try to build tension just feel like cheap deaths.

Artistically, One Upon Light is breathtaking. The black and white colour scheme is beautiful, albeit a little dire for the game's subject matter. It sets the tone that perhaps something very bad is at play, beyond what even the scientist you control understands. This is all complemented by a soundtrack that never feels it needs to go too far overboard. It doesn't need to, and the game benefits from the light, sombre soundtrack that never falls into the clichéd sci-fi realm it so easily could have.

Screenshot for One Upon Light on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

One Upon Light doesn't quite nail down the stealth-meets-puzzle concept it's aiming for, but it comes incredibly close. While it gives the player all of the tools they need, it falters at perfecting those tools in such a way that they lead to discovery instead of frustration. The level designs are wonderful, and the art style and music are great compliments to the game's sombre tone. It's a balancing act at this point, and while it stumbles, it doesn't leave the game in a position to be overlooked. One Upon Light is a triumphant merger of genres, and while not perfect, it still manages to be a merger not worth missing.


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 None   Australian release date Out now   


I loved this when I tried it at EGX last year. Very tough at time, but very satisfying when finally figuring some of the tougher puzzles out!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo, juzzy, Ofisil, TheDrew

There are 4 members online at the moment.