We've seen the light.
Everyone, at some point in their life, was (or still is) scared of the dark. It's something inherently wandering through our brains as we grow up, with the idea of nightmarish monsters hidden just about everywhere in the dark: under our beds, inside our closets, even outside our bedroom window. Lots and lots of games have explored this concept: Doom 3, Silent Hill, and Resident Evil. Almost none, however, have gone beyond the scare factor.
LIT, from the Wii's downloadable WiiWare service, attempts to blend the concept of hidden dangers in the dark with a puzzler. The result is a somewhat satisfying game, but sadly with lots of annoying trial and error.
[image1]Not much is given in terms of a story or what to do when LIT begins. You control Jake, who is trapped in his high school after dark, looking for his girlfriend Rachael. This might not seem to be much of an adventure, but in the dark, deadly creatures lurk. And Jake, armed with a flashlight and a slingshot, has to survive thirty levels that occur in the various rooms in his school. All the action takes place with a fixed camera angle that fits the entire room in just one panel on screen. Certain spots in the level might contain lamps, windows to be broken, or other appliances that can provide light, in order to show a safe passage to the exit door.
Not all is as simple as shooting all the windows and turning on all TVs or lights, though, since many obstacles are in Jake's path. Another bump in the road is how the game treats electricity - as devices are activated, the power bar on the top of the screen fills up, and once enough appliances are on at once, the fuse blows, restarting the level.
This scarcity of power also plays hand in hand with conserving slingshot ammunition, since it is extremely sparse. One bad shot and it's game over. Contributing to this continuous line of trial and error is how sensitive the hit detection is, and how the camera perspective limits your view during movement. Lots of times, you'll be doing dandy in a puzzle, only to misstep half an inch in the dark, and fail. Other times, however, you'll cross large areas of darkness and make it unscathed to the other side.
[image2]Inconsistencies like these tend to bog LIT's otherwise clever approach to the puzzle genre. Levels are clever in tricking you into taking the straightest route, and not all appliances in them are in perfect working order, pushing you into thinking a bit outside of the box.
The game also throws in a few bosses that aren't exactly fights per se, but more puzzles that challenge you to figure out indirect ways of damaging them with light. The first boss you come across might seem easy to defeat by simply pointing your flashlight at her, but that leads to a quick demise on your part, forcing you to analyze what items are scattered in the room and when to use them against the enemy.
Other than bosses, there are no other direct confrontations in LIT. The tension is completely contained in the puzzles, and the ambiance provides a simple yet convincing suspenseful backdrop to the levels. Character models are bare but fit the mood, and the overall graphical presentation in LIT is completely functional without going overboard with a lot of colors. The light and dark contrast might seem to demand more detail, but LIT proves that a simple black and white palette can be just as effective as shaders and dynamic lighting.
[image3]The sound is also bare, with a repetitive track that plays and plays and plays. In some points in the game, Jake's girlfriend will call him on a phone, making you take your Wii remote to your ear and use it like a phone, listening through the tinny speaker. It's not .mp3 quality sound, but it does its job of setting the mood.
LIT's emphasis on trial and error might turn off the more impatient player, but if you are the kind that can't say no to a good puzzler, there are unlockable game modes to extend your play. An 800 Wii Point price point doesn't hurt either, coming in as a much cheaper alternative within the Wiiware's ever-growing and not-so-much-quality-filled catalog of titles. Just make sure to buy it during daylight... you have been warned.