Looking at the number of awards Linelight has garnered and the fact that it’s available on pretty much any platform you can name, I feel I should be embarrassed to say that I hadn’t even heard of it before it made its way to Quest.
Linelight is a deceptively simple puzzler that comes in a tiny package at only 250 megabytes. It features around 200 mini-puzzles spread across six levels and, as it says on the figurative ‘tin’, movement is your only interaction. You’re a tiny sliver of light and can move back and forth and up and down through levels that can best be described as looking like electrical circuit boards. Your path to the end of each level is littered with obstacles and, more dangerously, bad slivers of light, some red, some orange, etc. In most cases, touching any of those will kill you instantly which, to be fair, isn’t a big deal. Linelight is generous with checkpoints and will just pop you back to a safe place right before you got killed.
This fits the general mood of the game, Linelight isn’t trying to wear you out or demand that you be painfully good. Most of the puzzles aren’t very difficult, the music is lighthearted, whimsical, and upbeat.
Aside from the clean art direction and great music, the real stars of Linelight are the level designs and the onboarding experience. The game smoothly and painlessly introduces you to new mechanics, enemy types, and traversal systems, teaching you without ever making it feel like it’s holding your hand or getting in the way of you just going about your puzzle-solving. In that area alone, it’s a bit of a minor masterclass.
Linelight is there to tickle you, keep you engaged in a relaxing puzzle-solving atmosphere, and give you little hits of dopamine that keep you happy, addicted, and engaged. It does all this very well, and for $10 bucks, you can’t go wrong with it if you like, excuse the obvious pun, ‘light’ puzzlers.
The one issue I had playing the game, and it’s not that big a deal considering how generous it is with checkpoints is that the thumbstick controls, which it relies on, can sometimes be a bit fiddly and misread your intent. Sometimes I’ll head towards an intersection it’ll go down instead of right, or up instead of left, etc. Maybe my thumbstick game is off sometimes, but it happened a few more times than I’d like. Again, not a big deal since there’s very little at stake here. Make a wrong turn, die, and materialize again a second later right before the junction.
Linelight’s six levels will take you around 3-4 hours to complete. None of them are particularly difficult, the only real challenge arises if you’re a completionist who wants to collect some of the harder-to-reach lights, but the game can easily be completed just by solving enough puzzles to reach the end of every level.
But here’s the question you might ask if you’ve seen that this very flat game is widely available on all those other very very flat platforms – why would I play this in VR?
Honestly? I’m stumped. I have no idea. I played it on Quest because I got it on Quest, and I appreciate the immersion, but this is a game that’s maybe more at home on your phone, iPad, or Nintendo Switch, where you can take it anywhere, play it in small sessions on your commute or when your relatives are being boring at some dinner.
This means that although it’s an easy game to recommend in general, I’m not sure you should buy it on Quest unless that’s your only gaming device. I’d suggest buying it on IOS or Switch if you have access to those. Then you can just pull it out for brief sessions whenever you’re bored, and it’ll stretch it out longer.
If you’re looking for a puzzler that does take advantage of VR, I’d instead recommend Cubism.