App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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Lyxo is an abstract puzzle game about bending light through pitch-black environments in order to illuminate circular objects. It's a simple game in concept, but its 87 levels really put your light-bending and problem-solving skills to the test. At times, the game also tests your patience, but there's still a good core to Lyxo that makes it somewhat enjoyable.
Light it up
Every level of Lyxo is almost completely black except for a small beam of light cutting across the top of the screen and at least one dull, gray orb that serves as your goal. By touching and dragging on the screen, you can draw reflective surfaces that can change the direction and even the shape of this beam of light so you can guide it to the orb.
Lyxo models realistic light-bending physics in the sense that you can curve a reflective surface to create a focused beam of light or have it diffuse and expand light across a wide area. You can even divide your beam to have it reach multiple places. Every level lets you experiment freely with light manipulation, giving you tons of options for reaching your goal point(s).
Discoveries in the darkness
There are no limits on how many reflective surfaces you can draw or where you can place them in Lyxo, but the game's challenge comes from what's hidden in the darkness. Anything that doesn't have direct light shining on it is completely invisible, and a big part of each level in the game is just shining light around to see what kind of obstacles you have to navigate before even pursuing a solution.
Most of the difficulty ramp in Lyxo revolves around increasingly complex architechture, but the late stages of the game also introduce mechanics like swarms of light particles you can push around a level and even colored light. While it's nice in theory to have these elements that shake up the core gameplay, many of them feel like additional hoops to jump through as opposed to an evolution or progression of the fundamental gameplay.
Blacked out bumbling
A big reason why I stuck with Lyxo was because bending and warping light in a realistic way feels really cool. Apart from the nice physics, the game also plays music based on what surfaces the light hits, which further enhances the experience.
Unfortunately, though, I wish it was a little easier to draw surfaces in Lyxo. The drawing mechanics don't quite follow your finger exactly, which can lead to odd interpretations of your input. This creates situations where you may know everything you need to do to solve a puzzle, but get stuck drawing and redrawing surfaces so that they actually catch the light the way you want them to. In these moments, Lyxo definitely feels way less enjoyable than it otherwise is.
The bottom line
Bending light is super fun in Lyxo, but trying to bend the controls to your will is decidedly less so. This isn't such a huge deal so long as the current challenge you're facing doesn't have too many arbitrary gimmicks layered on top of it. This is to say that the early stages of Lyxo are compelling thanks to the freedom granted to you, but the further you get into the game, the more time you spend on fighting with it.