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Developer: Darling Dash
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Tiny Lights is absolutely frustrating. I don’t mean in the sense of its challenge, I mean that its existence is frustrating. This is an adventure RPG, where the player is tasked with controlling beings called Tiny Lights, with a variety of different abilities, from discovering secrets, teleporting between link points, and attacking enemies. The goal is to explore the world, collecting coins to rebuild Bluestone Village, and eventually reach the Pillar of Power.

Tiny Lights does a great job at creating a haunting ambiance in its world, and making the Tiny Lights characters stand out amongst the gloominess. It’s nice to see an original idea on iOS, something that is clear in playing the game and reading about it, that the creators had an idea to express, and a story to tell, and they have attempted to do this. This feels like a labor of love, like a game from people who cared about what they were doing.

That aspect makes what I’m about to write so painful, because the issues are numerous with Tiny Lights. The controls are very finicky, especially around doorways and objects that have to be moved. Yes, that means that there are box pushing puzzles in the game, and they are neither challenging nor original. The combat in the game is uninteresting, and it conflicts with the controls, as it is quite easy to accidentally move closer to an an enemy, instead of shooting it. The combat and box puzzles aren’t fun, either; they add nothing of value to the game beyond being minor speed bumps along the way. The game is also very short; it took me about an hour and a half at the most to reach the end. There seems to be some kind of significance to the five different Lights, but it is one that the gameplay doesn’t make at all; the ending doesn’t clear it up either, and the point it tries to make doesn’t connect at all.

Tiny Lights wants to try and strike the same kind of arty chord that Sword & Sworcery was able to successfully hit. Sworcery did a much better job at engrossing players in its sights and sounds, and connecting its theme to the player in a way where gameplay flaws were excusable. Tiny Lights’ theme is hard to decipher, and its gameplay flaws are more glaring, especially its control issues. I hate to bag on a game like this, one where the creators have passion for what they’re making, and one that does show promise, but the execution is all off. This is clearly a work-in-progress, and I want to see where it goes from here, but right now? This is hard to recommend. It’s just a shame, really.

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