This Platformer Dares You to Explore the Pitch-Black

'Roguelight' is brutally simple yet fiendishly clever.
September 8, 2017, 3:00pm
All images captured by author, courtesy Daniel Linssen

"The deeper you travel the darker it gets, and you only have your arrows to light the way," Roguelight promises, but it takes a moment to realize just how clever of a design this is.

You can only carry so many flaming arrows, and so this is a game of pushing your luck towards the next resupply: Is there a bundle of precious arrows beyond this veil of darkness, or not? Can I afford to shoot this enemy, to light this lantern? Should I hold my arrow nocked, providing a small circle of dimming light, or should I fire it now to scout ahead?

All of this is gorgeously rendered in a green-and-blue palette that degrades to blue and black in penumbra. Coins seem to glint in direct firelight but nearly disappear into the background in shadow; total darkness is a black void that teases you with your own ignorance. Is it safe to cross this region of shadow, or will I fall into a pit? When you hit a swinging lantern, or a monster, with an arrow, coins fly out in the same trajectory as your arrow. Can you afford to go chasing after them in darkness?

This is a roguelike platformer stripped down to exactly one perfect mechanic that instantly captures everything a roguelike needs: Uncertainty, elation, frustration, daring, and terror.

Roguelight is available on Itch.