The staff at GameCritics were unusually excited about There is No Light, a successfully Kickstarted project coming from developers Zelart in Q3, 2021. In this rare double preview, we have thoughts from both Dan Weissenberger and Eugene Sax, each written independently of the other.

Dan Weissenberger

If there’s one thing that There Is No Light takes from Dark Souls — its most obvious inspiration — it is the unexpected beauty of decrepit spaces.

There’s something compelling about the way a world settles into rot after being torn asunder. Once-meaningful objects are tossed haphazardly aside, claimed by rust and mold. Once-bustling spaces are transformed into claustrophobic overgrown tombs. These games deal in decay and hopelessness, and TINL absolutely nails the tone.

An upcoming title that tries to capture the methodically-strategic combat of the Soulslike genre in a top-down dungeon-crawling context, There Is No Light is set in a world devoid of anything even remotely upbeat.

The demo I played opens in a long-disused subway station where a group of humans morosely await extinction. Their world has been terrible for a long time, overrun by both horrific beasts and powerful forces that defy imagination.

As I played, my character ran into people who were completely incapable of imagining that anything could get better. I talked to them and heard their stories of being cast out from relative security when their bodies were too tired or broken to continue doing the labor that earned them their place. Afterward, a moral choice meter popped up and I was given the chance to console them or to agree that an awful fate is all that awaits them. Naturally, I was as positive as possible, but when I saw what lay behind the subway station, I wondered if it wouldn’t have been better to be honest…

The demo’s main combat area is a series of subway tunnels filled with giant mutant spiders — it’s a perfect slice to experience because the omnipresent webs with writhing victims inside perfectly encapsulate the world’s hostile outlook. Also, because the spiders are delightful to battle via the melee system.

In a Devil May Cry-style move, There Is No Light offers the player three different weapons, each one profoundly different in range, speed, and the nature of its special move — it quickly becomes clear that the best way to engage enemies is to constantly swap between them, staggering enemies with a large sword then rushing in to box them into submission. It flows beautifully and was much easier to wrap my head around than the subtle nuances of Dark Souls‘ focus on parrying.

There Is No Light is still a year away, but it’s already one to watch for. The smooth gameplay and fantastic art design combine to offer a great experience, and if the developers can keep this level of quality up for the entire game, they could have something spectacular on their hands.

Eugene Sax

In a world run down by a global catastrophe, humans have moved underground and worship a new god called The Hand. Each year, The Hand visits the human populace and takes children behind sanctuary walls, never to be seen again. Players will take control of a man who is delving into the underground and past the walls of safety to take his daughter back.

There Is No Light is a 2D isometric action RPG where players will explore the ruined underground. Similar to the Souls series of games, dodging enemy strikes and attacking while the enemy is vulnerable is the key to victory. What makes it unique is a focus on being aggressive instead of constantly being on defense. As a reward for taking the fight to the enemies, a rage meter will build and when full, can be used to unleash a special attack that deals extra damage on multiple enemies at once.

Each weapon has its own moveset and special abilities. The basic sword allows the player to shoot a shockwave that pierces through multiple enemies at a distance, while the fist weapon deals damage to nearby enemies and the player gets a speed boost when used. Players do have to manage their special abilities and rage, though – using the rage move with a weapon other than the basic sword will break that weapon for a short period of time.

The atmosphere of There is No Light really pulls players into a dark and desolate world filled with demonic possession and otherworldly landscapes. Everything looks like it’s out to kill the player, and most of the time it will be. But there is more to the world than it seems…

The experience is a bit on the punishing side, though. There are places where player needs to dash over pits, and at times it’s not the clearest on where safe ground is. The hurtboxes for each character also are a bit bigger than expected. With the 2D perspective, I had trouble distinguishing which attacks would hit me and which wouldn’t.

In any case, I’m excited to see the full story and find out what’s really going on the depths of the underground. There is No Light boasts non-linear world exploration and a karma system that will change the environment around the player, and the combat is fast-paced and active in a way that makes it stand out. 

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