Prism: Light the Way Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 7.0
Gameplay : 9.0
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 9
Review by Lenny Eusebi
Prism: Light the Way is an addictive and challenging puzzle game with a surprising amount of depth to its puzzles. The game is built on the basic concept of directing light beams around a small room. You are given puzzle pieces with which you create and direct light, and targets, which are placed in the walls of the room. Depending on the game mode, the challenge can come from quickly finding a way to hit all targets, from quickly hitting targets successively, or just from the complexity of finding any way to hit all targets with the correct color of light at the same time.

The basic components of the game are the light bulbs (called bulboids) that create white light, the mirrors which reflect light, and the t-junctions which split the light. Since none of the components can be rotated, plenty of puzzles can be created using only these components. Finding the proper configuration in which to split and reflect the light to hit all targets simultaneously is simple to understand, yet challenging to do.

The complexity only starts with white light, however. The game also has red, blue and yellow glowbos (the targets onto which you must direct light). In order to create colored light, there are filter blocks, which change any light coming in to their color. This adds a layer of complexity to directing light through t-junctions and mirrors, because now you have to make sure that you can place the filter block where all glowbos further downstream from it will be that color. Additional sources of colored light include prisms, which split white light into beams of each of the other colors, one in each direction, and cycloids, which fire a beam that rotates colors (and therefore can activate any colored glowbo, but not a white one). The cycloids only fire their beam when hit by light, but they always fire in the same direction, regardless of the direction of the incoming light.

The only other thing that can be in the center of the square that makes up a game board are impassable tiles, which both block light and prevent the other components from resting on them. The impassable tiles often block off solutions that might have possible and perhaps more obvious, but they can also provide clues because of the way in which they narrow your options. For example, a level with an indent in a particular section of impassable tile is a hint about where to place a bulboid (at least, it is in the early levels).

Prism does a very good job of introducing puzzles gradually and helping you along. Early on, the puzzles are completely straightforward, a matter of moving a mirror or t-junction one square. Each new puzzle adds a new twist, introducing each component and then introducing various nested uses of components or tricks like using mirrors to create a beam going the opposite direction, or using both sides of a mirror to redirect different beams. As the complexity progresses, the initial configuration of components also becomes less and less similar to the final solution.

There are 4 game modes: Puzzle, Time, Hyper and Infinite. The Puzzle mode allows you to complete puzzles without a time limit, presenting 8 puzzles per tier and allowing progress to the next tier only once at least 6 puzzles are complete. With 15 tiers to go through, there is a lot of gameplay to be had in this mode alone. Infinite is very similar to puzzle mode, but it just gives you puzzle after puzzle without stopping or letting you save. You can take your time on each puzzle, but you have to play all the way back through any time you turn the DS off or go play a different mode.

Time mode imposes a time limit, which is cumulative across levels, with bonuses awarded for finishing quickly and for completing a puzzle without using all available components. For every ten levels completed, you earn a medal based on how well you have done up to that point, and your progress is saved so you can resume later. The puzzles in time mode are not the same as the ones in puzzle mode.

Hyper mode is about quickly redirecting light to glowbos that randomly appear, before their time limit expires and they explode. Multiple glowbos can be out at the same time, and in some cases you can gain efficiency by hitting two or more at once. Mostly, though, this is a game of quickly moving pieces around and efficiently targeting glowbos. Whack-a-mole, essentially. Though I didn’t find this as engrossing as Puzzle or Time modes, those who want some fast-paced action puzzling may find it to be the superior mode.

All in all, Prism: Light the Way provides a large amount of entertainment in a simple and easy to pick up package. The depth of its puzzling mechanic combined with some well thought-out game modes gives it a much longer lifespan than many puzzle games. It is something that will be well worth picking up again from time to time.