Have you ever played Tetris and thought, “Wouldn’t this be better if the screen was almost completely dark and I couldn’t see what I was doing?” Well, my friend, your incredibly specific prayers have been answered.
Glo is a new indie puzzle game from Chronik Spartan, with the opening description line: “What happens in a game where most of it is hidden?” After gaming for fifteen years, I can honestly say that that question falls into the category of: “I wasn’t thinking that, but am now.” And do you know what happens in a game world where most of it is hidden? Frustrating, repetitive, creepy brilliance!
Despite me referencing Tetris at the beginning of this due to the similarity of having generic cubes, the game isn’t anything like Tetris and is an entirely unique and interesting concept. You move one cube around a world built entirely out of generic cubes, with the aim of sitting on the only unique-looking cube, to crush its unique spirit.
As the game promises, your cube is the only source of light and only illuminates a small amount of the world around you. You can defend yourself by firing a small bullet that creates light into the game world to try and get a better idea of your surroundings, and you can later find new ways to light up the world around you, but for most of the game you are in darkness.
There does seem to be some element of story to the game with short lines of text hidden throughout the levels, indicating that you are being trapped by some sort of evil, creepy overlord, or overlady, or overgender-neutral ruler. The messages are very random, and I didn’t always notice them on my first attempt. This was very intriguing, and I found myself desperate to reach the game's conclusion for the sake of finding out the fate of this tiny black cube, rather than simply playing a puzzle game.
From what I’ve concluded, you have been trapped in this dark world by the overperson, who is very lonely and in dire need of company. In order to keep you in their world, they’ve set a series of obstacles for you to overcome in your attempt at escape. The messages become more intense, expressing emotion and giving warnings to the square, showing both concern and resentment toward the character and building a complex relationship between the overperson and the player. Yes, it’s deep, and I love it! It creates almost a David Firth level of creepy in an adorable world decorated with florescent blue highlights and rainbow guns.
Like most puzzle games, the game does get incredibly frustrating at times, with very little to go on in terms of instruction and most levels relying on trial and error, or occasionally luck, but for me that’s the appeal of a puzzle game. It’s not angry frustration, it’s fun frustration, the kind that gives you a little squeal of joy when you complete a level you found particularly taxing. However, I certainly wouldn’t recommend this game to someone going through anger management.
You may attempt a level as many times as you like as there is no lives system and when you die you simply start the level again from the beginning. However, if you crave intensive motivation to best the game on the first try, then in the start menu there is a death counter in the top-left corner that I’m sure can give you some motivation.
Like any game, there is room for improvement in Glo. The music is incredibly repetitive and I turned it off after the seventh level or thereabouts. Repetitive music does seem to be the standard for puzzle games, though, so this isn't a knock unique to Glo.
The visual aspects are beautiful and appeal to the deep gothic princess inside me, along with the bitter sarcastic side that likes to see things suffer and fail. Occasionally you’ll encounter a level that seems a little rushed as some levels feel very similar to ones before, but mostly it’s a well laid-out game world that contains unique levels and is forever changing and adding in new features.
Glo would have more success as a mobile game than a PC game, since it has a lot of potential as a puzzle game and mobile seems to be the main market for puzzle games nowadays. This is the first time in a long while I’ve sat down to play a puzzle game, as I usually play them on my phone during loading transitions when playing other games. (I’ve heard that mobile games are great for the outside world too, but the outside world is also loud and scary.) While Glo has story and charm that keep it interesting and the player invested, I’m not sure if it’s enough to reach the same success on PC as it would on mobile.
On Steam one of the features listed for Glo is “A world where nothing is known, everything is a surprise,” and that pretty much sums everything up. It’s fun, it’s cute and one of the best games I’ve played this year. Glo will be available on Steam on October 23 and, costing only 4.99 USD, I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to play it.
I would have liked it if it had been released earlier since I would have enjoyed browsing Tumblr for Halloween costumes inspired by this game. I guarantee someone would have tried and the result would have been amazing.
GameLuster was provided a game code for Glo by the developer.