REVIEW: htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

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The Firefly Diary | oprainfall
Title htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary
Developer Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher Nippon Ichi Software
Release Date February 24, 2015
Genre Puzzle Adventure
Platform PlayStation Vita
Age Rating Teen
Official Website

Developed and produced by Nippon Ichi Software, The Firefly Diary is an adventure/puzzle game for the PlayStation Vita. My first reaction to this game was that it was very nice to look at, and it even made my top 5 most anticipated games for 2015. I had no real expectations before playing it other than I wanted to explore this beautiful post-apocalyptic world and discover all of its secrets. With that said, the game took me on an adventure filled with many different emotions including happiness, anger, sadness and confusion. The most important point is that I could not put it down.

The game is played on the front and back touch pads of the PlayStation Vita, which took some getting used to. I discovered in the middle of my playthrough that you can switch the controls to analog sticks, but, by that time, I was already so used to the touch screens that it felt foreign to me.

The Firefly Diary | oprainfall

The Firefly Diary opens up with a girl named Mion waking up to two fireflies, Lumen and Umbra. You control Mion by touching the front touch screen which controls Lumen, the green firefly. Different gestures on the touch screen will enable Mion to do different tasks, like guiding your finger up a ladder will make her climb or tapping Mion will make her sit. The back touch pad is used to control Umbra, the purple firefly. This will put you into a shadow realm where you can move through the shadows to flip switches, fire seeds out of plants or confuse enemies.

The Firefly Diary | oprainfall

The art in The Firefly Diary is like something out of a storybook. Mion’s design is very simple in her appearance and moves as though she is made of paper, which supports how fragile she is throughout the game. The bosses in the game are huge creatures that range from dumpster robots to plant monsters which all come off as very intimidating and scary. The enemies, unlike the towering bosses, are menacing shadow creatures that block your path and force you to find clever ways around them or just to simply figure out how to kill them. The music in each chapter supports the isolation that you feel while playing and makes you feel as alone as Mion and changes during happier moments in the the memory fragment areas or when being forced to run for your life.

The Firefly Diary | oprainfall

There is very little text in the game, as the actual story of what happened to Mion is delivered through secret flowers that are scattered though the four-chapter story. These aren’t always laid out in front of you and some take quite a lot of thought to acquire. Touching these will trigger a memory fragment and sends you to a pixel-like world where you control a happy Mion and complete tasks appointed by her family.

The Firefly Diary | oprainfall

The puzzles in this world are not difficult enough to stump you and make you turn off the game or force you to look up a guide. With that said, you will die in this game… a lot. The levels are set up to be somewhat trial and error. You enter a new area and see a plant. As you pass the plant, a mushroom grows on your head and, suddenly, your controls are switched. This would be easy to solve if a hole to a watery grave wasn’t right beside it. This frustrating level design is fixed by the generous amount of checkpoints the game offers. After each death, you are quickly thrown back in to try it again.

I’d like to add that the most discouraging part of the game I faced was when you had to guide Lumen through a maze without touching any of the walls or moving objects. I fixed this by switching control to the analog stick, but even that was difficult.

The Firefly Diary | oprainfall

The Firefly Diary can be beaten in about 10 hours, but with chapter select and PlayStation Trophies that test your skills of each level, this game can probably be stretched to 15+ depending on how many times you die. The Firefly Diary is a game that allows itself to be beaten through trial and error and rewards you with an amazing world full of beautiful backgrounds and life-threatening obstacles. Every death encouraged me to try again, as, each time, I got a little further. Once I completed a trial, after 10 or so attempts, I felt motivated to move on to the next section. I can say that I hope this trend of indie games continues from Nippon Ichi Software, as this game can be bought on PSN for only $19.99 and delivers an experience worth having.

Review Score

Review Copy Provided by Publisher