Guide The Light
You've probably played something a little bit like Guide The Light in the past, although not as a fully-fledged game. If the game inspires any fleeting memories at all, they're most likely made of recollections of early Tomb Raider titles, where you pushed blocks around the screen to guide light towards a door-opening mechanism.
Guide The Light is stuffed to the brim with precisely this sort of stuff as it tells the tale of a hero venturing deep beneath mystical pyramids in order to gather up the buried jewels. Unfortunately, every time he wanders into a room and gets within touching distance of the precious gems, a door slams down and the challenge of teasing it open falls to you.
To achieve this, you need to find a way of feeding projected light beams of different colors into their corresponding sockets. Blue light needs a blue socket, red light needs a red one, and so on. Once every light color has been teased into place, the door will open, our hero will thank you, and it's on to the next challenge.
Easier said than done. For the most part you'll be depending on angular mirrors to divert the beams of light around each room. A mirror angled one way will change the beam's horizontal direction, while a different angle will affect its vertical path. You only have a limited number of mirrors to play with on each grid though, and guiding each beam towards its destination, without having them interfere with each other, requires extraordinary forethought and revisionary work.
The game very quickly introduces new elements to spice up this fiendish gameplay even further. Light-splitting boxes will take in a single beam of white light and shoot out a variety of new colors, for example. From here you might have to tease these new beams through tiny cracks in the walls to where the second layer of the room's challenge awaits. It can all be quite intimidating, but patience and careful consideration are rewarded with palpable joy when you see through the puzzle and have your 'eureka' moment.
Later on in the game, you'll need to factor in new and pressing dangers. Ordinarily, you're free to slide the mirrors and cubes around the level at your leisure, without any penalty for mistakes or revision. In a handful of early levels though, a pillar will slam down for every movement you make on the grid. Should those slamming pillars reach the adventurer, you'll have to start from the very beginning.
Guide The Light takes what might seem on the surface to be a simplistic game mechanic and digs out so much delicious complexity from it that it will leave your head spinning. It's endlessly fresh, fiendish and packed full of imaginative level design. While it will occasionally have you wince at its complexity, the solution is never more than a moment's calm consideration away, and jubilation always lies just around the corner.
That's really the only cautionary note in giving a hearty recommendation for this wonderful brain-bending puzzle game. It's unashamedly targeted at the hardened puzzle gamer who fancies themselves a cut above the rest, and who tires of trudging through hand-holding levels in order to get at the meat of a game. If you're up for that challenge, one of your favorite games of 2012 awaits you.
What's Hot: A devilish, delicious collection of highly imaginative puzzles that will delight as much as they challenge you.
What's Not: Learning curve? What learning curve?