Archaica : The Path of Light is one of the most relaxing puzzle games I’ve ever played. Everything about is feels designed to ease any frustration that may arise from getting stuck on a puzzle; from some lovely ambient music, to the soft, yet nicely designed visuals. Some small control issues aside, it’s a wonderful way to spend a few evenings.
The crux of the gameplay sees us moving various kinds of mirrors around in order to bounce beams of light through the correct crystals, unlocking the gate to move forward. It’s very much a case of logical thinking, encouraging experimentation in placement to see how the light will reflect, where it goes and what happens when other beams are combined into one. As you may expect, things start of fairly simple, though it doesn’t take long before we’re reflecting lasers through teleporters, off angled mirrors and somehow making 2 beams converge part way through a sequence before returning back along the path.
Each later puzzle often started with a bemused look, trying to figure out just how the hell I was supposed to solve it. Then, as the gears started to turn, bemusement turned to concentration, before elation as I gained another solution under my belt. We can place each of the mirrors as many times as we like, and wherever we deem suitable within the confines of the levels grid. For me, a sign of a good puzzle title is when the solution seems certain, yet there’s just that one piece that doesn’t fit, encouraging us to take what we’ve learned and adjust it slightly. Archaica is brilliant at this. Many times I thought I had it sorted, yet it required me to adjust my perspective ever so slightly, rethink my approach and try again. Very rarely did I get truly stuck, though there were certainly a few that gave me a run for my money.
Handily, Drageus Games have implemented a help system should we need it. Dotted around each puzzles environment are 2 or 3 white hint crystals. Collect them all, and a help plinth is activated. This allows us to highlight 5 squares at a time, with a circle indicating where we should place one of the mirrors. We can initially use 3 hints, but then the plinth must slowly recharge before we’re able to use any further help. I really liked this way of doling out hints; not only does it offer out hints slowly, allowing us to use what we’ve learned thus far to solve it, but it also doesn’t spell out exactly what mirror needs to go where – we still need to experiment with placements to get it right, and I found this approach actually helped me out with the following puzzles.
There are also totems to find within each stage, clicking on them revealing either some information about a new puzzle piece in the level, or filling on some story elements. While not essential, they go towards completion and achievements too, so it’s worth scanning the area before going on to solve the puzzle. Some stages also feature a hard to reach Stone Key to unlock. Appearing either solo or in pairs, they are an extra – optional – puzzle that need solutions of their own to complete. Unlocking them all grants access to an additional set of harder levels, so it’s one for the completionists out there.
My only real gripe with Archaica – and it’s fairly minor – is the control scheme. We drag a cursor around with the stick and select our object with A, which is simple enough. But the cursor sticks to the nearest item, and moving between two next to each other saw me accidentally selecting the wrong one a bit too often. However, once selected, we move the object one space at a time; it’s a kind of mishmash of control schemes that feels a little off in the hand. I’d much have preferred the latter method across the board, though the cursor is needed to scan the area for the hint crystals and totems. Honestly though, it wasn’t a game breaker for me, just more of a minor annoyance.
All in all then, I had a really great time with Archaica: The Path of Light. The puzzle difficulty is pitched just right, it allows us to solve puzzles at our own pace and it has a brilliantly executed hint system that still encourages thinking about a solution rather than just giving us the answer. Some minor control issues aside, I’d highly recommend picking this up, especially if you’re after something to unwind with after a long day.
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.