In rays of the Light | PS5 Review
What would you do if you were the last human being on earth? In rays of the Light is a post-apocalyptic adventure-puzzler that, in a short amount of time, will ask some very big questions. The game is developed by Sergey Noskov and published by Sometimes You, and is a remake of their own creation, The Light, which was released back in 2012. In rays of the Light was released on March 17th 2021 and it is currently available on Windows PC, both Playstation 4 and Playstation 5, Xbox One, as well as on XBox Series S and X, and also on Nintendo Switch. This review was written after experiencing the game on Playstation 5.
I went into this game blind. I have no previous experience with the developer or the original game, and I read nothing about it beforehand. Thus I really had no idea what to expect, other than what the store trailer and description told me. Before you see the game menu, there is an intro movie. The camera fixates on a house and street while you see it getting abandoned, and nature reclaims the area. A year passes by ultra rapid style. The game menu will then appear and show another building, already recognisable from the game cover. A lot of the game will revolve around this building, which turns out to be a school.
You start in a classroom without any other context, with no idea what the goal is, except trying to find ways to progress through locked doors and explore. Soon you will see a cryptic message about the light leading the way. You will see said light coming through the windows. But it’s so bright, and there's no way to make out what it is. Pretty quickly it becomes apparent that you are somewhere in Russia or in a Russian speaking country, considering the messages scribbled on walls - no worries though, all important stuff is properly translated and localised. It turns out to be Moscow. Sometimes you will find notes left behind by the school staff, clueing you in as to what has happened here. The game starts out a bit slow, but then the only way is up.
The only tutorial is how to use the flashlight. Also there is a control scheme visible in the menu, but otherwise you are entirely on your own. The choice of run button mapping is a bit weird, and I kept turning off the subtitles instead, which made the game a bit harder, seeing as subtitles in this sense means clues when you interact with things. This is a nice feature though, if you want to increase the puzzling difficulty. The controls are actually a bit wonky in general. Why do you need to exactly face the handle of a door to interact with it? Weird choice. You can look around with the PS pad but it is WAY too sensitive to be of any use. You can lower the sensitivity and thus render the stick useless instead, so it’s kind of one or the other, not both. The jump button is seemingly useless but is needed to get up a curb sometimes, as you can get weirdly stuck from a 10 cm height difference.
The visuals are stunning. The graphics are realistic and well made for a game in this price range, but most of all, the setting is what makes the game tick. You are alone in an empty world where society and civilisation has crumbled. At the same time this brings about a feeling of calm serenity as you explore the school grounds. Only beautiful mother nature is there to watch as you delve deeper into the puzzles, uninterrupted. Both the music and ambience are absolutely amazing. It starts out with simple, sad piano tunes and chirping birds but escalates into a crescendo of deafening panic tunes as the game takes darker turns into puzzles of shifting mazes and horror. There are some absolutely spectacular little details that I would love to talk about, but will refrain from going into these futher, as it would spoil the experience for anyone who has yet to try it. My one complaint besides the controls is, I wish that they would have kept the jumpscares out of the game because they were absolutely not needed. I don’t mind them per se, but the atmosphere would have been perfect anyway, and some people might have difficulties with the experience, just because they can’t handle the jumpscares.
While the game has no way for you to lose - for example, game over, or dying, it brings some very eerie episodes that explore the horrors of war and brings about a psychological challenge for the player. The whole script including the notes scattered around the school is very well thought through, and it asks some heavy and interesting questions. In the end the game is a criticism about humanity and where we are headed. At the same time it is so much more. It is hope, challenge, a bucket of emotions, but most of all, art, and it was a delight to experience.
Victor’s Rating: 4.5 fuses out of 5.
Many thanks to Keymailer for supplying the review code.