"Fa La La, Fa La La"... the spirit of Christmas as expressed by that little pig that herds sheep. But let's be honest; this time of year can be tough for many people. Thank goodness Julia and Kostya Stankevych have created a simple puzzle game that encapsulates the peace that we all deserve and wish for, especially at this time of the year. With some beautiful chiming music, and gorgeous graphics with gently falling snow and shimmering stars, you can't help but feel all Christmassy playing Starlight Xmas.
Just like in the previous two Starlight games, to solve each of the thirty levels simply move your mouse, without clicking, around the screen to find the point at which the constellations of stars fall into place to create pictures. In Starlight 2, each picture was automatically bumped into place when the cursor was placed near the point of solving. In Starlight Xmas, the actual point of solution needs to be found, requiring just a little patience to locate the particular spot, and providing just a wee bit more of a challenge. What is completely new in Starlight Xmas is the addition of a puzzle mode. This mode is comprised of thirty dot-to-dot, or star-to-star, puzzles. Complete the pictures by clicking on stars to join them. Not all of the stars in each puzzle are needed, so it takes a little bit of guesswork to figure out which stars make up the puzzle. Each puzzle is solved when all the right stars are connected to each other.
In each mode there's easy access to the main menu by clicking or hitting [Esc]. There's volume control and you can mute the music without removing the sound effects, and there's access to a walkthrough. In classic mode, your score is based on how quickly you solve each level. In puzzle mode, the score is based on the number of mistakes made. In puzzle mode, one minor frustration is that when you realize that you've clicked on a star that's not part of the puzzle, the intuitive response is to click it again to deselect it but instead we're advised that you can't connect a star to itself. But the frustrations are by far outweighed by the beauty of the graphics and accompanying music, as well as the smooth, almost pure gameplay.
Overall, Starlight Xmas is so sweet and uncomplicated. It offers us a moment to relax and unwind, gently reminding us of the meaning of Christmas while indulging our senses. So take a break from the everyday, immerse yourself in a simple yet magical game and maybe you'll emerge singing "Fa La La" like that happy little, sheep-herding Christmas pig.