Night Lights: After Dark
I was going to start this review with a parody on Metallica's Enter Sandman, but then I remembered when they played this song at the gym last week and nobody else knew what it was. I died a little inside that day, but Bombocracker's puzzle platformer Night Lights: After Dark is so cute it revitalized me enough to make me keep on going just a little longer. In this sequel to the original, the premise remains the same as you use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to run and jump out little blockheaded blue hero through levels to the exit. Most of the level is in shadow, however, and that shadow can make your path dangerous or just block it off entirely by creating hazards and walls to make your life difficult. Fortunately, if you can manipulate the light, you can also manipulate reality, since some obstacles will disappear entirely if the shadows are dispelled either by flipping switches or shining the lantern you can find, carry, and put down with [X] or turn on by holding [C].
All of this should sound pretty familiar if you played the first game, and admittedly for the most part, After Dark feels like a fairly straight-forward level pack with all the same strengths and annoyances from the original. After a few levels, however, After Dark changes things up a little by introducing a buddy system, granting you a triple-eyed companion who will follow any light that gets turned on, from your lamp to the lights stationed throughout the area. He's vulnerable to danger just as you are, however, so while you're the only one who needs to reach an exit, if he dies before you get there, you'll likely need to restart, since luring him to press switches to open your path for you is crucial. So... yes, in a way, Night Lights: After Dark has sort of turned itself into a platformer crossed with an escort mission, which isn't going to ring bells for everyone. Now more than ever it feels like the game should have gone full puzzle, since the stages that focus on that rather than timing are a lot more enjoyable and cerebral. Despite its potential frustrations, however, Night Lights: After Dark is still a very cute, clever little game, and at fifteen levels it's hardly going to overstay its welcome.