Lowglow on PC
Puzzle games fascinate me, if only due to the wide variety that the genre offers. Lowglow, a somewhat soothing yet ultimately challenging title, is no exception. While on the surface this light-and-shadow path-builder may seem simplistic, there’s a surprising depth to it as players progress. Tasking players with the simple act of drawing lines to guide balls of light to each level’s goal, this curious title is relaxing and demanding all in one.
Lowglow, like many puzzle games, begins with the least-challenging tasks, including a tutorial-style opening level to get the basic idea across. Players must draw lines within the field of play in order to redirect the bouncing light orbs that must be shown to the goal. The first chapter focuses on helping players get a handle on the various rules and restrictions, including the limit on how many lines each level will allow.
What may be the most innovative piece of Lowglow is the “golden line.” With the game broken up into different stages within each chapter, each area allows for the use of one special line above a single level’s limit. Of course, since players also spend these to unlock bonus areas once a chapter is complete, completing each level without relying on this crutch is ideal for those who want to see everything there is to see. It’s an interesting way of both enabling players a means of conquering tougher puzzles, while also rewarding playing by the rules.
While Lowglow’s only player interaction is in the placing of lines, the real star of the show are the orbs of light that must be helped to their destination. These come in a variety of colors, and can be redirected or manipulated using both player-placed lines and natural obstacles. The first lights introduced are blue, which are subject to gravity; next, players will learn to guide yellow lights, which raise upward rather than falling. Lastly, the straight-travelling green orbs will simple travel a direct path based on the angle of what they last touched.
Lowglow makes for a challenge, especially in the later levels, if only because players must become adept at not only using their own lines to create paths, but utilizing the walls and other obstacles within each level. Many levels are built with a variety of colored walls which alter the orbs that touch them. Blue, yellow, and green structures imbue the lights with their own shade, while red obstacles simply destroy all that touch them. Some levels will also include other environmental hazards, including portals and gravity wells, to make navigation more difficult.
Keeping Lowglow interesting is a story that, while somewhat difficult to follow at first, has to do with the player’s role in lighting pylons around the realm and helping the ancient beings who have been nearly swallowed by the shadow. While it has little impact on how players approach playing each level, this extra touch does at least add something else. Still, with other games approaching similar themes of philosophical meaning and the motivation behind a player’s actions in grander fashion, it’s ultimately an unnecessary bolt-on that can seem distracting at times.
Ultimately, Lowglow is a well-made game that’s perhaps remarkable only for the fact that, by and large, there doesn’t seem to be a single “correct” solution to each level. While players will have to work within the constraints of the rules, they’re also given free range on the placement of their lines, including the length and angle at which they rest. With soothing sounds and sharp visuals, the $7.99 price on Steam is reasonable for the 100-plus levels to explore. Developer Rockodile also plans to release a level editor “soon” — meaning that there could be an infinite number of challenges as the community builds on the already rich content.