No One Lives Under the Lighthouse is a retro-styled, indie thriller that entertains as much as it confuses. We enjoyed our time with it, though it certainly won’t be for everyone.
There’s very little in the way of explanation to No One Lives Under the Lighthouse, with us simply plopped in the game world and left to figure out what we’re supposed to do. Luckily, there’s generally only one way forward, and so we move about the small island and Lighthouse looking for the next puzzle to solve. These are never more challenging than ‘find item and bring here’, but developers Marevo Collective do a good job of not over stretching this mechanics welcome, finding neat ways to subvert our expectations just as it threatens to get old.
No One Lives Under the Lighthouse is a short game so we won’t delve into spoiler-y stuff here, but suffice to say things aren’t all they seem when we get dropped off at the shorefront and told we’d be picked up in a week once they’ve found a new permanent light house keeper. The previous tenant has gone missing, and so we take up the task of keeping the lights on and the place clean. Fear not though, as this isn’t some lighthouse keeper sim, rather a premise to keep us moving about and finding the next story beat.
One minute we might be simply turning the power on, the next we’re traipsing across the place trying to find tools to fix our broken hut. It’s a briskly paced game even despite our character not being the quickest mover, and once things progress it becomes quite…interesting…indeed.
There were times however where the sparse UI worked against us. There’s not so much as an inventory menu, and the way to progress is to find the hidden interactive elements in the world and use the correct item we’re carrying. These only flash up with a white outline when we’re directly in range though, and one section had us running loops around a building unable to find where we were supposed to use the item we very clearly needed to use until we stumbled across it by moving a few inches to the side.
It’s also easy to spend too long running the wrong way, or slowly climbing and descending the lighthouse, as there are no objective hints or guidance at all. Again, it’s not the most expansive of places but there were too many times in the short runtime where we’d have travelled the whole island because we missed a prompt or item. This is made that bit harder by the faux-32-bit visuals; the models are authentically Sega Saturn-era blocky, but there’s a overdone ‘pixelly’ filter that hides detail until we’re right up close. Add in plenty of night time or dark scenes and it can make for quite the blur of images, albeit at the same time crafting quite a surprisingly creepy atmosphere.
However, we’re old enough to remember when things almost looked like this, so we muddied our way through and, if you can do the same, there’s an enjoyably dark adventure to have here. It’ll be over in an evening or two but for our money that’s the ideal length for a title like No One Lives Under the Lighthouse.
No One Lives Under the Lighthouse is an enjoyably dark, surprising adventure that is well worth a look for those in the market for something a little obtuse, yet different.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.