I wish I may, I wish I might... how long has it been since you wished upon a star? Moreover, how long has it been since you simply looked up? People spend a lot of time staring at their feet as they go about their lives, but Starlight, a new puzzle game from Kostiantyn Stankevych, may just have you looking skyward more often.
The game is played entirely with a mouse, which should be good news for those of you with trackpads. As you move the cursor, the stars in the sky shift position and move to follow it, gradually bringing the picture hidden into shape. It's a matter of slowly moving your cursor around the screen until the image snaps into focus. Think of it like a Magic Eye book, but without all the headaches and "Oh, yeah, I totally see it" lies to your friends. We know you've done it.
Because the controls are so simple, Starlight is easy enough for nearly anyone to pick up and play. The game offers three modes for you to play, two of which are on timers, but arguably one of the best ways to enjoy the game is to simply take your time and ignore your score. Who needs points when the sky's the limit?
Analysis: It's not often that I'm delighted by something. Well, okay, yeah, it is me we're talking about, and admittedly twitching bits of string or shiny balls of foil have a way of capturing my attention. But it's not often that I'm genuinely surprised by a game, and Starlight did just that. Maybe I've been subjected to too many samey shooters, too many painful point-and-clicks. But when that teddy-bear popped into focus? I admit it, I squealed a little. What's wonderful about Starlight is how drastically different it is from most of the other games coming out these days.
You remember that one special Sir David Attenborough did on the electronics aisle? Me either. Which is why it can be a little disappointing to be marveling at how beautiful everything is, and to start to reflect on the wonder of nature, and then suddenly be presented with... a cellphone or television set. On the one hand, I understand; you need objects that are instantly identifiable with fairly simple shapes and clean lines to make the game work. On the other hand... well, it hardly ruins the game, but it's a bit of a misstep in an otherwise silky smooth presentation, and I wish the theme had been a bit more cohesive.
But, oh, what a presentation it is. I can forgive the occasional pop culture icon when a game is as delightful as this one. The soft music, the luminescent colours... The game has a total of 64 levels, which sounds like a lot, but you'll likely sail through them. The difficulty scale is pretty much non-existent, which may be a disappointment to people looking for a challenge, but if you're just looking for something to unwind with at the end of the day, then look no further.
Simple and charming, Starlight is a welcome change from anything else available right now. While it may not offer much depth or difficulty, it's undeniably beautiful, and I would love to see the original idea expanded upon in the future with a little more challenge. But as it stands? For those of us who could use a touch of wonder in our days, Starlight is a nice respite.