She and the Light Bearer

Alice didn’t like being criticised, so she began asking questions. `Aren’t you sometimes frightened at being planted out here, with nobody to take care of you?’

`There’s the tree in the middle,’ said the Rose: `what else is it good for?’

`But what could it do, if any danger came?’ Alice asked.

`It says “Bough-wough!” cried a Daisy: `that’s why its branches are called boughs!’

-Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, Lewis Carroll, 1871
Don’t talk to flowers.

See, now this is why talking to flowers is generally speaking a waste of time. Alice learned this the hard way. But then again, she was messing about in the nega-verse and seriously even highly trained Wizards such as myself know not to mess with that place.* There are a lot of flowers in She and the Light Bearer from Toge Productions and if you are not careful they will pun you. They will pun you hard.

I spent a lot of time being berated by an angry mushroom in She. At first, much like my adorable firefly avatar, this made me angry. Especially after I’d put up with flower puns. Who was this guy to be so crabby at me? But after a while I began to gain some semblance of wisdom. These plants were trying to teach me something, and if I gave in to anger I wouldn’t hear it. All the frustrating foliage you talk to in She are just trying to make sure you get where you need to go.

In the forest looking for the Mother.

She is an interactive story. It’s presented as a point and click adventure game, but none of the puzzles are really what you’d call challenges**. That being said, the story told is really quite a good one. You avatar is a “firefly” who is searching a great forest of the lost Mother. I put “firefly” in quotes as you are clearly some sort of mythological fairy-type being and not a bug. You’re mission is ill defined and you have to talk to the denizens of the forest to learn how to move forward. In addition to the punning flowers and the angry mushroom you’ll meet creepy potatoes and the Great Deku Tree. Each character you meet forces you to think about your quest. Not in a puzzle-y way (though you will have to collect and manipulate McGuffins for them), but in a way that makes you think about the nature of quests and the nature of… um…. nature.

What I’m trying to say here is that the writing is really good. She and the Light Bearer makes for excellent bedtime story materials for children of all ages with humor and compassion and thoughtful meditations on the world.

Reed is actually very insightful if you pay attention.

And truly the story is really on the second best part of She. The art is the real star of the show with gorgeous scenery and expressive character design. I’m burying the lede all the way down at the bottom of this review, but the art is truly spectacular. I really want to see more from these creators in the future.

She and the Light Bearer may be a bit light**** on gameplay but it makes up for it with amazing art and a unique engaging story. Worth your time and money for the experience, and it’s way better than talking to flowers in real life.

*You’ll know if it’s a Nega-wizard if they don’t have an evil goatee or beard or at least bushy waggly eyebrows. Nega-wizards are mostly hairless.

*You’ll know if it’s a Nega-wizard if they don’t have an evil goatee or beard or at least bushy waggly eyebrows. Nega-wizards are mostly hairless.

**He says after posting a video where he gets confused by some of the puzzles. In my defense I stream late at night and I was tired.***

***Your excuse is lame.



MagiCat – Mystic Hairballs

MagiCat from Toge Productions is simply an incredibly solid two-dimensional platformer. That sounds like faint praise, but I swear that it really isn’t. It’s the product of a single person studio and is really a remarkable piece of game craft. Everything about it is just well made. Which is our theme for today. Just straight up quality games. No nonsense.

Eat hairballs slime!

The graphics in MagiCat are super cute. You’re a cat in a wizard hat for crying out loud.* How can you not love that? You spit hairballs at slimes. Magic hairballs. So cute. Just good pixel art all around. The bulk of the enemies are palette swaps of of couple basic forms, but I don’t hate that. The basic forms are well executed (cute slime & cute bat being the most common) and the pallet tells the player exactly what they are in for. Each level is unique and colorful with clearly defined goals. None of the graphics are things that you haven’t seen before, they’re just done really well.

Part of the charm of MagiCat lies in it’s simple yet elegant structure. Each level in MagiCat consists of three platforming sections and then a boss. In every platforming section there is a bonus red gem you can collect if you are so inclined which allows for some added elective challenge. At some point you’ll want to cash in those gems for special abilities (they are MagiCat’s currency), but I really like how they’re structured so a player can choose their own difficulty.

The secret is in the pond.

Each level has it’s own mechanic. Maybe one is rolling platforms. Another might be switch blocks. Another would be a shrinking mechanic. I liked how focused this made every level. The player has to understand the mechanic to complete the level, but if they want to get all the red crystals they need to master it. Again, this is another example of MagiCat’s design ethos. Seemingly simply well constructed levels that allow the player to learn at their own pace.

At the end of each level you fight a boss which is usually a larger version of a level enemy and incorporates the level mechanic. I found these a bit of a mixed bag. Some were really trivial and some were super difficult. But there were a lot of them that I thought were extraordinarily clever. They felt like cool tests of the level mechanic. I’m not a big boss battle fan, but the bosses I liked in MagiCat I really liked.

Ice rabbits are worst rabbits.

I’m not really sure what else to say about MagiCat. The controls feel good, the graphics are cute and fun, and the level design is top notch. It’s not a revolutionary game by any means, but I don’t think it needs to be. It’s really fun to play, and I think other developers could learn a bit by checking it out. I think you should play it our I will cough a hairball at you so hard.

*Notably this means that MagiCat passes the Wizard Test with flying colors. All games should have wizards in them.