“If you enjoy a good puzzle game, Archaica will not let you down.”
Archaica: The Path of Light is an upcoming indie puzzle game from developers Two Mammoths. Playing out much like a top-down Portal in style, the game focusses on solving a variety of ancient and mystical puzzles centred around the use of light. In simple terms, your mission in each level is to direct different coloured lights to their respective goals. As you progress, however, these puzzles become increasingly more complex and intricate, turning an otherwise simple premise into quite the detailed challenge.
Archaica starts off slowly and simply. The game attempts to throw some lore in the direction of the player, but the simple text box-based format that these snippets take makes them easily ignorable. Understating that some players may simply want to enjoy the experience at hand without a need for the story however, the developers have kindly made it a largely optional feature. It is an unorthodox move, but in truth the game is simple and attractive enough where this side of it matters very little. For me, it felt like more of a distraction from the puzzles themselves than an added element.
Despite an easy introduction that most players will likely race through, the following levels and their individual missions become much more complex in a number of ways. While the game begins with a simple set of mirrors used to complete its puzzles, it proceeds to add elements such as light tunnels, mobile emitters and the need to combine different coloured lights to unlock secondary or tertiary-coloured goals. This, again, puts its style of play in line with a game such as Portal, adding new challenges to each new test as the game progresses. The addition of features adds both a greater challenge to the game and a draw to keep on playing it. Things are consistently kept fresh and interesting in order to keep you hooked.
As well as an optional story and compelling, evolving gameplay, Archaica offers a beautifully immersive aesthetic for players to enjoy as they play. The visuals are inspired by ancient temple ruins, and every aspect of what you see has been crafted fantastically to that effect by the game’s designers. The eerie sounds and music which make up the background to the gameplay are equally as immersive, making you feel the game as much as you experience it in any other way. Great credit must go towards the outstanding work in this department. All of this is, of course, presented in glorious detail for the player to enjoy as well. Personally, I found the lighting of each level very captivating indeed.
Like any good puzzle game, Archaica fulfils the desires of completionists everywhere by adding some additional, optional tasks into the mix too. Finding hidden crystals and inscriptions on pillars can help players to enjoy even more of the narrative, or simply obtain a feeling of having gone above and beyond in each level. These are not hard to find, but are usually hidden out of sight so as to make the player explore the full extents of each map. Some players may choose to ignore these additional objectives, and the game both recognises and respects that choice. They are purely optional, but it is nice to know that the option is there for those who seek it.
The main criticism I have of Archaica is that it doesn’t push any boundaries. Everything the game does, although it does it well, is quite… ordinary, or at least as you would expect from a puzzle game. The comparison drawn against Portal underlines this. Yes, the premise is different, but the nature of what you do and how you do it largely resonates the ideas of that older, arguably more popular title. That being said, Archaica is in no way a bad game. In fact, I found the experience very enjoyable. Part of me wishes this were a mobile title so I could take it with me and enjoy its casual, easy-paced offerings each time I find a quiet moment to do so. The real clinching point upon the game’s release will be that of many others before it; its price.
If you enjoy a good puzzle game, Archaica will not let you down. It is detailed, it evolves as you play, and it poses a challenge to the player without losing its style. The game’s design in art, sound and indeed lighting is a pleasure to behold as you enjoy these aspects too. What you shouldn’t go in looking for however is anything too revolutionary. Whilst the presentation is fresh and new, the ideas are traditional as puzzle games go. This doesn’t let the game down, but it is worth bearing in mind when you decide what price tag the experience is worth to you.