When you talk about hidden object games, there’s always some sort of dark lord looking to make a big return or a witch with your beloved under her spell. Sometimes it’s both. It makes it kind of hard to dig too deep into the genre. A game that deviates from this trend tends to stand out in a positive way. A game that follows the trend risks falling between the cracks.
League of Light is a game that could easily fall between those cracks. You play as a detective in the late nineteenth century. Your mission is to stop the dark lord’s resurrection. You have the typical obstacles, such as a twisted castle and a sniveling minion or two. There’s a damsel in distress and some oppressed people to save. You’ve played this game before. However, LoL actually does a good job of putting itself above the cliches. It does this by creating some back story, lore, and by actually letting you interact with the denizens to a small degree. Actually trapping a banshee is much cooler than reading about it, as is taking down a fierce hydra with your wits rather than weapons. Add in scrolls and paintings that give you glimpses into the history of this world, and things start looking up. I was quite satisfied.
Visually, the game works. The humanoid characters look all right, even if they don’t animate so well. The exception is the gargoyle, as he looks great while flying around and scaring the pants off of you. Art for this kind of game is usually pretty standard, and LoL does little to deviate from the crowd. However, everything has this dirty, lived in look that works rather well for the game. The effects are quite good as well, though I’m starting to wonder if we’ll never see a game where you hold the axe instead of it just floating in the air.
Aurally, the game hits all the right notes. The voices are pretty solid, from the lowly goblin that blocks your path to the narrator that divulges bits of lore. I found maybe one character I didn’t like, but thankfully I didn’t have to hear her much. As for effects and music, they run par for the course. You can safely play with or without them. I almost find it worthwhile to just listen to something else. What’s here is more than adequate for the job, it’s just not a vital part of the experience. Again, that’s par for the course with this genre.
I always enjoy it when a developer goes off the beaten path with hidden object sequences. I play so many of these games, I get sick of crossing things off of lists. While this game has a few of those lists, there are just as many sequences that change things up. Instead of hunting down an item based on its name, you get a picture. However, when you find an item, it’s added to your inventory instead of just crossed off. You then need to use that item on the screen in order to uncover another one. It’s almost like playing a miniature adventure game. It’s cool. Some items even require you to solve a quick mini-game or figure out a code. The whole process creates this nice mixture of hunting for objects and hunting for where to use objects. When you get into the groove of things, it’s amazing how fun it is. I always looked forward to these sequences.
The bulk of the game is classic point-and-click stuff. The door is locked, so you need a key. You see the key under a grate on the floor. You can’t reach through the grate, so you need to hunt around. Elsewhere is a block of ice with a fishing line in it. Nearby is a hammer. You use the hammer to break the ice, getting the fishing line. Attach the fishing line to a hook, and then you can fish the key out and open the door. This game pulls off this kind of logical progression and puzzle solving quite well. I barely ever used hints with this game, as there was hardly a time when things weren’t perfectly logical. Also, the handy map system allowed me to see which areas had something for me to do. It saved a lot of time backtracking or hunting for that one thing I hadn’t already clicked on.
Finally, we have the mini-games. They run the gamut here, as you’d expect. You’ll find puzzles like these in every Professor Layton game to be sure. These tended to be quite simple, including one of the easiest slide puzzles I’ve ever seen. All of them had instructions so you wouldn’t get stuck, but I didn’t need them as often as not. As per usual, you can skip any puzzle you want with no penalty, but the game offers up achievements if you can finish them all.
The CE offers the basics. You’ve got some wallpapers, concept art, and the music to enjoy at your leisure. There’s also a bonus chapter to complete. This bonus chapter picks up where the main game left off, but you don’t necessarily have to play it to feel like you’ve ended things. This is good, because my copy of the game glitched out on me. The HUD, including the inventory, menu, hint, journal, and everything else disappeared on me when I was playing the bonus chapter. The game auto-saved, as it is supposed to do. Restarting the game didn’t bring my stuff back, and many people have reported this as a problem. You can’t simply restart the game either. You would have to create a new profile and start the game from scratch. Since I got stuck in the bonus chapter, this meant I would need to replay the entire main campaign and more than half of the bonus chapter to get back to where I was. I’m sorry, but no HOG I’ve played is worth that kind of hassle.
Short Attention Span Summary
League of Light plays well, has stellar hidden object sequences, and creates a fun world to explore. It’s a shame. I was honestly really into this game. It was primed to be my favorite HOG of the year, and possibly of all time. Instead, I’m left frustrated by a stupid glitch. It’s still a good game, and one worth playing. If it doesn’t glitch out on you, you’re in for one satisfying experience top to bottom.