Chinese publisher Oasis Games has something of a mixed reputation amongst fans of virtual reality (VR) videogames. The company is very prolific, and there is little doubt that it has allowed many smaller developers the chance to get their content out there, but at the same time, Oasis Games seems to have something of a lax stance on quality control. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with Light Tracer.
Light Tracer is a VR puzzle-platformer, a genre that the PlayStation VR in particular seems to be well suited to. The aim is to guide a young princess up through the levels of an improabably-structured magical tower. To do this, you use a magical staff which can emit a beam of light, which is represented by one of the PlayStation Move controllers. When you pull the trigger, the princess will follow the path of the light beam. The other Move Controller allows you to interact with the environment, mostly letting you swivel it around to get another perspective – vital for many of the puzzles.
A problem swiftly becomes apparent as you go through the early stages of Light Tracer – it is very unforgiving, requiring a great deal of precision in moving and jumping, something which the Move Controllers are not overly suited towards. Recent firmware updates have improved the tracking of the Move Controllers, thankfully, or controlling anything would be nigh on impossible.
Otherwise, the game is fairly intuitive once you get the hang of everything and attune yourself to the level of precision needed. Moving the level around and guiding the princess along quickly becomes second nature. None of the puzzles are particularly baffling, though some do need to be seen from a specific angle to get to grips with them.
AS you progress onwards and upwards, another issue crops up. Light Tracer contains boss battles. This in and of itself is not an issue as such, as the mechanics are fairly straightforward for the most part and death is mostly just a slap on the wrist, the problem is that is is impossible to know if you are damaging the boss at all, since there is no health meter or damage indicator. This leads to immense frustration, and many bosses need many, many hits to take down, and its impossible to know if you are getting close, or if you are even doing it right at all.
There is little in the way of story here, despite the premise supposedly being the princess searching for a magical cure for a disease. The princess herself has little personality, and lacks even a name, which feels a little odd. She could also have benefitted from a larger list of stock phrases, since due to the sheer number of times you die, you will quickly get bored of hearing the same phrases over and over.
The art and graphics are beautiful, slightly stylised and cartoonish in a way that suits the feel and atmosphere of the title perfectly. The music is also nicely done, a pleasant background that while mildly repetitive, never becomes grating. There are some unlocks available, like other costumes for the princess which can be bought with the coins you collect through the levels, but it is entirely optional and cosmetic.
Overall, Light Tracer is a well-crafted VR platform title. Once you get used to the controls, it becomes challenging enough to keep you coming back for more. There are some very frustrating elements, but not enough to spoil the gameplay entirely. Having said that, Light Tracer is at its best when played in relatively small doses. Like a plate of snacks to nibble on instead of a feast, but still just as tasty.