Projection: First Light | PS4 Review
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Projection: First Light, developed by Shadowplay Studios and published by Blowfish Studios, is a hand-drawn, platform-puzzle game which utilises light and shadows for you to navigate your way through the various levels and the puzzles they hold within. Projection: First Light is currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo Switch. For the purposes of my review I was playing the PlayStation 4 version.
The story in Projection: First Light was quite difficult to grasp initially because there's no dialogue so here's simply what I picked up initially: you're a small child who was determined to capture a butterfly, causing chaos around her. When she eventually catches it, she's captured herself and loses the butterfly, leading her on a journey across the world following her little butterfly. You'll find yourself travelling from Indonesia to China onwards to Turkey and England helping a variety of different characters but as mentioned previously, there's no dialogue and everything is conveyed in a mime/pantomime style type performance.
The only tool that you have in Projection: First Light is a ball of light that floats along beside you and is controlled by you. Other than this you are fairly useless in terms of abilities other than jumping, picking up some objects and the ball of light. You use the ball of light to create shadows to make a path for yourself. This mechanic mostly worked well however sometimes just moving the thumbstick the tiniest bit too far was the difference between success and failure. Sometimes an idea would work perfectly on the first try, other times I found myself knowing what to do, but struggling mechanically with it. Whilst frustrating, this absolutely was not a deal breaker for me and didn't cause me too much hassle because the rest of the game was so charming and beautiful that I was determined to keep playing and exploring more of the simplistic beauty that Projection: First Light had to offer.
I feel like the whole shadow mechanic would be a difficult one to perfect and translate into gameplay, so the exact precision needed to advance wasn't a surprise to me. After a short while I managed to learn what would work and what wouldn't so it wasn't overly frustrating and it allowed me to truly appreciate the beautiful and chilled out experience given to us in Projection: First Light, whether it would be the stunning visuals or the beautiful soundscape that accompanies it. The puzzles aren't overly challenging and when I found myself stuck I was able to fiddle about with the environment around me and resolve my problem.
Overall, Projection: First Light was totally consistent throughout and gave me little to complain about. I think I personally would have loved some form of narration or something of the sort purely because I really struggled to follow along with the story. However I know that in traditional puppetry, there is minimal dialogue anyway and in this case it's clear why there isn't but despite this, I think this game shines in so many other ways that I don't feel it was lacking due to this. It is also very clear to me that the no dialogue was done for a purpose that fitted the premise better so that's just a personal choice for me. I would personally compare Projection: First Light to other titles such as Limbo and would recommend it to anyone keen on these hand-drawn, platform-puzzle games particularly if you are looking for quite a unique experience and a game that's going to challenge you in a different way than is generally expected. Projection: First Light is a worthy contender as it is quite an impressive experience that was well produced and well thought out, considering the story was driven fairly well despite no instances of dialogue, written nor verbal.
Lj's Rating: 4 butterflies out of 5.
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Many thanks to Blowfish Studios and for the Review Key.