She and the Light Bearer is a point-and-click adventure and playable fairytale that dwells on the frailty of nature. Developers Mojiken Studio just recently pushed out a demo featuring the first chapter and finally lets us get a look at the game aside from its beautiful visuals.
Framed as a folktale of events long past, the game walks you through an enchanted forest as you uncover the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Mother, the life-giving spirit of the forest. You play as the eponymous Light Bearer, a young firefly on a mission to find Mother. With a host of quirky characters to guide your way through the forest, you’ll solve puzzles, pick up nifty and potentially useful items and uncover the hidden secrets of the forest’s history.
It’s a very short demo. Covering the introduction and the very beginning of the Light Bearer’s journey, it exists to set up the story more than anything.
The hand-drawn artwork is gorgeous and easily the best part of the whole demo. Despite the odd cartoony element, the thickly drawn lines and texture paint an impression of fairytale illustrations. Rays of light overlay the drawings, which is a relatively simple technique used but pays off hugely in ambience points. Coupled with the poetic narration style, this is the biggest contributor to the game’s overall enchanted atmosphere.
Trouble in Paradise
But sadly not everything is as magical as the artwork. The pacing is glacial, even for a point-and-click. Interacting with the world feels much slower than it needs to be, especially with dialogue mixed in, and it never quite feels like the demo gets off the ground.
The game’s opening ties into the clunky pace. We open on a group of children around a fire, who have some banter before segueing into telling the story of the Light Bearer, which is where the game truly starts. The “comedy” of the scene falls pretty flat and the kids have basic characterisation defined by their names(e.g. Grumpy, Diligent and Sleepyhead). The entire intro seems like a needlessly simplistic way to frame the narrative.
The game markets itself as a poem but despite some wonderfully poetic phrasing and imagery in the narration, the demo suffers from minor language fumbles. It’s not egregious but it’s enough to be distracting. Mojiken is an Indonesian studio so it’s possible some nuance is getting lost in translation, but it would be great to see revised and updated dialogue when the game is fully released.
The story itself really does capture a sense of wonder. The way you progress through the forest, turning aside leaves and picking up the odd item here and there, feels like you’re slowly uncovering what the game is actually be about. You get hints of a message about the relationship between humans and nature that aren’t fleshed out yet but sit there in the background, and will probably be expanded on further along in the game.
Despite needing tightening up on a mechanical level, She and the Light Bearer is a promising game with beautiful visuals and what looks like will be a heartfelt story. The game is set to release some time in 2019, but no date concrete date has been nailed down yet. The game’s Steam page only promises “Soon, by the grace of Mother”.