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System: WiiReleased: 2/9/2009
Developer: Wayforward TechnologiesPublisher: Wayforward Technologies
Genre: Action/PuzzlePlayers: 1
ESRB Rating: T for TeenController: Remote & Nunchuck
Game Price: 800 Wii PointsReviewer: Clovis 15 (Staff)

Wayforward Technologies has, over the years, given gamers a variety of hardcore offerings (as well as some not so hardcore titles based on embarrassing licenses that are perhaps best left forgotten). Some of these, like their work on Contra 4, have sold very well; others, however, have pretty much been cursed with horrid retail failure. Since Wayforward has often had horrible retail performance with their original titles, they decided to release their recent Survival Horror Puzzle Game “Lit” on WiiWare when their negotiations with a publisher fell through.

In Lit you play Jake, an underachiever in high school who wakes up in study hall one day to discover that there’s no one else in the room with him. In fact, on a closer examination, there doesn’t seem to be anyone else in the school with him at all. He quickly discovers why when a sweep of his flashlight across the room reveals that there is something moving in the darkness itself. Thusly begins Jake's quest to escape from his evil possessed high school alive, and hopefully find his girlfriend Rachael along the way.

Jake’s quest to escape his school takes the form of an action puzzle game comprised of 25 normal levels, plus five boss fights. In the normal levels, you are tasked with finding a path through the darkness that will eventually lead you to the room’s exit. In the boss fight levels you must find a way to burn down, through the purity of light, evil possessed members of the school faculty. To that end, this is probably the only video game in all of gaming history that has a boss fight where you go up against an English Teacher writing out a lesson plan on a chalkboard.

Jake’s only weapon against the omnipresent darkness is, as one might have instantly guessed, light itself. To this end Jake must create light in any way that he can to move forward; whether that be through breaking windows, lighting flares, or turning on electronics. Breaking windows will be the easy part for Jake, as once they’re opened they stay that way; however, whatever has happened to the school must have done a number to the circuit breakers in the building as they will blow if you turn on too many things all at once. Therefore there will arise circumstances where Jake must occasionally deactivate electronics, either manually or through permanent sabotage, in order to continue to proceed through the room his is presently in.

To get him through all of this will be an infinite supply of lives, which is a good thing as he is only one mistake away from failure at any given time. Furthermore, as one might expect from an action puzzle game, you will also often be able to render a puzzle completely unsolvable by acting out at random. That said, you should almost never have to act out at random as the entirety of the puzzles are quite solvable through real logic.

Along the way there will be moments when a phone in a room will start ringing upon entering the room, if you pick up this phone you will get to listen to a phone call from Jake’s Girlfriend over the Wii remote’s speaker (sort of like what you do in No More Heroes just before a boss fight). So long as you answer the phone in every room that it rings, and finish the room in the same attempt that you picked it up, you will get the game’s good ending. Since there is little that could actually prevent you from getting to the phone before it stops ringing, and since it will also start ringing again if you should fail your current attempt, there is no reason why anyone should actually not get the game’s good ending.

Now while Jake’s trek through his darkly lit, and extremely possessed, school is both engaging and creepy during most of the trip; the game has a number of rough edges that will drive you to frustration at points (primarily the last few levels of the game). The controls are not always precisely reactive to the split second you try to do something, and near the end of the game the timing on many of the puzzles becomes very anal (especially the final boss fight). Furthermore, during one particular boss battle, there is a slight chance of certain piece of electronic performing a random power out that results in the boss essentially getting a freebie victory against you. Lastly, if you try to use any tool - while standing next to an electronic - Jake will active/deactivate the electronic instead; this will result in a somewhat frustrating unintended suicide. But still, it’s very solidly built for something that only costs 800 points (for those lucky bastards out there reading this that live in Europe, your later released version has some of these issues fixed up).

Once you finish the game you will unlock Dark Mode; which is essentially the same as the normal, but with stricter timing as after a certain amount of time all the lights in the room will just go out all at once (but this doesn’t happen at random, they slowly fade their way to it the entire time). Also, if you got the good ending, you will have the ability to play the game through as Rachael; along the way she can receive phone calls from Jake which add a little bit more story to the entirety of the scenario present in the game. Finally, once the game is done, you can also specifically select any level from the game and play just it by itself.

So in the end, due to some rough corners that make parts of the game far harder than they should be, I give the otherwise excellent title Four Flashlights out of Five.

Score: 4/5

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Images taken from The official Lit website