Sunday, September 23

Review: Light Fingers [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The funny thing about Directs is that they can very quickly bring attention to games nobody may have heard of with even a quick glimpse. One of the games that made such a splash was the visually-unique Light Fingers, which features an art style that blends elements of steampunk and maybe papercraft, resulting in what looks almost like a mechanical pop-up book. The only issue was at the time nobody quite knew what sort of game it was. Now that it has been released it turns out that its style of play is almost as distinctive as its appearance, though in execution it may not be quite as polished.

There are two modes available to you in the game, what is essentially an action-oriented board game that acts as the game’s primary focus and then a Dungeon Rush mode that can be played with 1 - 4 players and is really just a subset of the main game. Starting with the title’s strong suit the board game isn’t quite like anything I’ve ever played, calling on you and your friends to try to steal your way to glory, while trying to evade capture and screw up your friends however you can. Your goal, depending on how the rules are configured, will focus on who can grab and keep the most bags of loot. This can be tricky business.

Depending on your strategy, skill, and how daring you are you can gain loot a few different ways. You can explore the countryside looking for shops of various kinds that you can choose to buy a variety of cards or gear from, but that you can also rob. Once you do that guards will be dispatched to capture you. If you’re far enough away you may simply be able to keep away from them, assuming you get some decent rolls and they don’t, but if you have stealth points you can also hide from them in the woods. Optimally you’ll be able to get back to your camp and deposit the loot, locking it in as safe. A variety of dungeons, including the supremely-tough royal variety are a quicker way to fortune, but also more risky. In the dungeons you’ll need to move through a pretty challenging gauntlet of traps that can be tough enough on their own but, for extra flavor, your friends can choose to control in order to make your life even tougher. Additional ways to screw up your friends include being able to steal their loot bags from them if you land on the same space or using a variety of cards to slow them down or screw them over in a variety of ways.

Where the game struggles most is unfortunately in those dungeon action sequences, which are nice in concept but a bit wonky in execution. Your character, though somewhat nimble, never feels very precise or quick in reacting to your commands to jump or dive. The fixed isometric camera angle also generally does you no favors in being able to determine your depth on the screen in certain critical situations where you’re trying to jump between platforms or avoid being hit. This is the major shame of the Dungeon Rush mode if you’re looking for something to occupy yourself with single-player content. There’s some minor incentive to do it since success in this mode will unlock some new elements of content in the main game but extended periods of time just running through the dungeons also tends to get aggravating after a while when you your sloppy control too often impedes your ability to deal with the traps that require a degree of precision or even something as simple as crossing a chasm on a narrow board. Aside from the controls about the only issue I had was that early on the nuances of the rules and how the game works aren’t made as clear as they could be, so your first few games may have a bit of a learning curve as everyone stumbles through understanding how everything works.

In the end if you’re looking for a unique experience to share with some family or friends the primary board game mode in Light Fingers is refreshingly different and looks incredible as a whole. The control shortcomings are a frustration, especially if you can only play by yourself, but as long as everyone is roughly on the same page at least it’s generally fair. While it may not have nailed down everything perfectly there’s enough to discover and enjoy that it’s worth checking out to enjoy with some friends.

Score: 7.5

  • Looks absolutely fantastic
  • An interesting mix of board game and action elements
  • There’s simply nothing else remotely like it on the Switch

  • As a single-player experience the Dungeon Rush mode is simply not good enough to warrant your attention
  • The control mechanics and camera angles in the dungeon sequences aren’t as polished as they could be
  • Your initial playthrough or two of the main game will include some confusion as not all game rules and systems are explained well