When it comes to puzzle games it isn’t common for games to use tried and true mechanics while using something else as a hook to get you to look at it. This hook may be a unique element, an interesting dialogue to surround the puzzles, or a specific art style, and Arhaica: Path of Light does that latter by taking a simple light redirection puzzle game, and throwing it into a beautiful setting to make it something simple, yet special.
There is some story that is given through a more lore like perspective, around how you are the chosen one guiding light to protect from the apocalypse, which to be honest could have been left out. The story adds nothing to the game and occasionally throws some info at you. I found myself skipping it as I enjoyed the game more without it.
The puzzles are what Arhaica: Path of Light is all about and that’s where it excels. Puzzles are light manipulation based, where you need to get light from A to B, or A to B and C for example. Throughout the puzzles you will manipulate the beam by pointing it in different directions, splitting it into more beams, enhancing its strength, and changing its colours. This is key to variety in the game and it does a surprising job of adding variety to its puzzles.
When a puzzle finally clicks, the thing your brain was missing to fix it, may not be what you need in the next puzzle, and this keeps you always on edge. For instance, you may use a mirror to reflect two different beams going in different directions at different angles, but then may not see that requirement again for some time. The game is difficult if you haven’t played a light redirection game in a while. Some may come easy, or by fluke, but for the most part puzzles will require some figuring out. Though it never feels obscure, once you solve a puzzle you feel like it was within your reach.
With a hard puzzle game, hints can be key to it becoming too easy, too hard, or that sweet spot, and Arhaica: Path of Light gets it spot on. To get hints you need to find light gems in the surroundings, which each provides you opportunity to gain a hint. Each hint allows you to click on a tile and it will tell you if that tile with four tiles around it are supposed to have objects there. Not which objects, one should be there for the solution.
This can be extremely useful as you may be trying to build a solution in one place and it will tell you there is only supposed to be one object there, or none. This can force you to move on from that and look where you hadn’t been before. These hints are enough to make the difference or to get your mind off a train of thought, but not so much that the puzzle is always a given afterwards.
As previously mentioned the real hook is its aesthetic. The relatively small puzzle areas are built in different style like ancient ruins which are built with a style like what you may expect from a Fable game. This beautiful art makes it worth exploring to find the hint gems, and to enjoy making your way through puzzles.
Arhaica: Path of Light is a simple game that relies on the quality of its puzzles to entertain. With a clever hint system and a beautiful art style welcoming you in, it’s a truly worthwhile experience for anyone who is after a hard, creative beam of light puzzling experience.
Released: August 2017
Platforms: PC (Windows 10)
Developer: Two Mammoths
Publisher: Two Mammoths