Oscura: Lost Light
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 7

Oscura: Lost Light is a nice, solid platformer with eye-catching visuals and challenging gameplay. The level designs in particular are very good and the puzzles never become tedious. The abundance of checkpoints and unlimited lives at your disposal also cuts down on the frustration. Overall Oscura is a great game for fans of the genre, but doesn’t have anything unique to really draw players who would not normally try out platformers.

Gameplay: Entertaining and challenging without becoming frustrating or tedious.

Graphics: The silhouette visual style might not be a fresh as it used to be, but still looks good in Oscura.

Sound: The background music remains firmly in the background without really standing out

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Oscura: Lost Light

Developer: Chocolate Liberation Front | Publisher: Surprise Attack | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Indie / Adventure / Platformer | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

I’m only guessing here, but I imagine being an ordinary lighthouse keeper is not exactly an exciting job. However, being a lighthouse keeper in the Driftlands, a world that is under constant threat of encroaching darkness, is a different matter altogether. Oscura, the apprentice lighthouse keeper, is tasked with protecting the Aurora Stone powering the lighthouse, but does a rather poor job and ends up destroying it instead. Now with the stone in shards and spread across the darkest and most dangerous areas of the Driftlands, Oscura must retrieve them before it is too late.

Oscura: Lost Light is actually the third title in the series, but don’t worry if you have never heard of the previous games. Both are on Android and since this is an origin story you don’t really need to know the characters or setting to have fun. The story isn’t particularly original either, but this doesn’t matter as the focus of the game is to deliver a pure platforming experience without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.

Oscura can perform a standard jump and double jump, but don’t expect to be killing enemies by hopping on their heads. It only takes one hit for Oscura to bite the dust and levels are filled with cogs, gears, spikes, chains, pits, disintegration beams and all manner of dangerous monsters. Although you can sometimes use the environment to get rid of monsters, by dropping a bunch of boulders on their head for example, most of the time avoiding them is the safest policy. As you make your way through the levels your goal is to collect the light orbs that are scattered about while using your problem solving and platforming skills to advance. The levels have a great flow to them and while not as fast paced as something like Super Meat Boy, you rarely have to stop and think to figure out a puzzle. Instead everything you need is usually in plain sight or nearby and you just need to figure out what powers to use to make it all fall into place.

Speaking of powers, the lighthouse accident imbued Oscura with a glowing hand, which allows him to wield four different types of elemental powers. You typically start each level with no power and have to find them to make use of them. This is not a Metroidvania title though, so don’t expect too much backtracking or exploration.

The abilities at your disposal are time, gravity, construction and destruction. They are all very straightforward to use and you only have access to two powers at a time. This is useful as you sometimes have to rapidly switch between abilities while performing jumps in order to get past traps and obstacles. The destruction power allows Oscura to break down certain walls, while the construction power is useful for making platforms. The destructible walls as well as spots where you can create platforms are clearly marked, so there’s no danger of wandering around aimlessly while trying to figure out where to use your powers. The ability to slow down time comes in handy for sections where you can get crushed by the roof or need to dodge fast moving objects, while the ability to reverse gravity allows you to walk on the ceiling or reach spots that would otherwise be inaccessible.

I really enjoyed the platforming elements of Oscura as the game has a really nice old school vibe to it. There are some very tricky sections, but the abundance of checkpoints (some would say overabundance) ensures that frustration is kept to a minimum. Even the light orbs you collected remains collected if you die, so there is very little needless repetition. The game features just over twenty levels and completing all of them took me about three hours to accomplish. The timed levels and light orbs that can be collected give the game some replay value, but overall it is a very linear experience.

Visually the game uses a nice silhouette art style where all the foreground objects and characters are cast in shadow. It is a style that has been used many times before in games such as Limbo and Knytt Underground, but it still looks good in Oscura. I particularly liked the colorful glowing trail left by Oscuras hand, which also serves as a handy (pun intended) reminder of what elemental power you have ready. The splashes of vivid color work very well with the dark shadows and while the backgrounds are very basic there is little time to stand around and gawk at them in any case. I don’t have much to say about the audio as most of the tunes remain firmly in the background and nothing really stood out as particularly memorable. It never becomes annoying though, which is definitely a plus. The default controls are rather tricky to use as it involves holding down buttons to activate your power. Obviously doing this with the face buttons, while also jumping across moving platforms can be a challenge to say the least. The controls can be customized though, and as always a controller is highly recommended.

Although Oscura: Lost Light doesn’t really break any new ground, it remains a thoroughly enjoyable platformer with a very old school feel. It is challenging without being too frustrating and, like I mentioned earlier, the levels have a nice flow to them. If you are not a fan of the genre, there isn’t much here to change your mind, but anyone who enjoys a good platformer will have fun with this game.

System Requirements

  • OS: Microsoft® Windows® 7/8
  • Processor: 1.4GHz or fasterDual Core CPU 2Gz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Any from the last 4 years
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
  • OS: OS X version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later
  • Processor: Intel Mac 1.0 GHz or better
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX 9 supported
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 or later, or otherwise compatible Linux distribution.
  • Processor: 2GHz or faster
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible video card with 256 MB shared or dedicated RAM
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space

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