By Jason Quinn / October 21st, 2019
Anew: The Distant Light is an upcoming platformer developed and published by Resonator. It starts out with you waking up in some kind of pod on some kind of spaceship, where something has presumably gone wrong. The pod next to you is empty with a piece of paper that says “Find Me” taped onto it. Thus begins your adventure.
It’s a 2D platformer with some run and gun elements, so traversing levels and shooting enemies is what you’re doing throughout this demo. You can aim in a full 360 degrees, and have two weapons to work with, a shotgun and a machine gun. It controls decently well, though I do think the movement is a tad sluggish, but I suppose that works given that you’re in a spacesuit. The biggest issue I had with this demo is in its gameplay. I think enemies take entirely too long to kill. They generally require several seconds of sustained fire. Even flying enemies that feel like they shouldn’t take much at all to dispatch are rather resilient. Hopefully they tweak this a bit in the full game.
The guns feel fun enough to use, but I think some enemies are not very satisfying to kill. Either there’s no visual cue when they’ve been hit, no visual or audio cue when they die, or a lackluster death animation, or all of the above. Once again, hopefully they fix this up.
The movement, aside from being slow still works fine. You’re given a double jump and the ability to wall climb to aid in traversal, both of which are responsive. You get a jetpack too, which is necessary for swimming through water, oddly enough. On land, it’s still useful in reaching areas you can’t otherwise reach, but the flying feels too slow. Increasing the movement speed across the board would be nice.
On the defensive side of things, you get a shield that lasts for a couple seconds and negates any damage done to you, but only in the direction you’re facing. There are lasers scattered around the environment, and the shield was used to pass through these obstacles. It can be used on enemies, but I found it was just as easy and perhaps faster to dodge the attack.
There’s a small assortment of vehicles to use, from a giant mech equipped with a laser that annihilates everything in its wake, to a quick little missile shooting buggy. They seem fairly interesting, though you don’t get much time to spend with them. One issue I had was with the buggy segments where you have to drive through these 2D Sonic the Hedgehog-esque loops. In a Sonic game, you go through loops by simply holding one direction on the d-pad. Here, if you hold one direction, you’ll abruptly turn around when you get to the top of the loop. According to the game’s logic, you’re now driving to the left, but pressing right, so you’ll get turned around. Hopefully this is something that gets smoothed over.
Overall it’s kinda hard to form much of an opinion based on this demo. It’s extremely short, and a lot of the selling points just aren’t present. The store page talks about a big world to explore, puzzles to solve, and skillful combat to engage in. This demo was completely linear, and thus there was no explanation. There were no puzzles at all. The combat was fine, but I wouldn’t call it particularly challenging or requiring much skill. It also talks about being able to customize and upgrade your weapons, which also isn’t in the demo.
I feel like a demo should provide a taste of what the full game is going to be. If the full game is a pizza, this demo is merely a pepperoni. I don’t expect a demo to completely reveal everything in the full game. When I look at the list of features though, I can’t help but feel like the demo just isn’t very representative of the final game. Even if they spruced up the stuff I have issues with, there’s still a lot of planned features that weren’t in the demo. So I can’t tell if any of that is going to be good or not. Currently, there’s no release date planned, so that does give me hope that they can polish up what’s here and make the other stuff good too.