Review: In Rays of the Light

There’s a lot to be said about games that drop any level of threat in favour of atmosphere and exploration. Gone Home remains one of my favourite games, and while it was short in terms of game time, the memory lingered far longer. In Rays of the Light treads the same path, dropping you in a long-since abandoned school and no clues as to what’s going on. Over the hour or so that the game will last you’ll need to leave no corner unchecked, navigate pitch-black areas using your trusty lighter and figure out how to piece together series of clues to unlock padlocks and solve other puzzles.

The fact that there’s no bad guys or jump scares does little to dent the atmosphere of the game, and actually makes it feel like a more real situation you’re experiencing. Get settled with a decent headset and you’ll get the most of the lovely sweeping background music and sounds, really getting a full impression of the lonliness and emptiness of your surroundings. There’s very little direction here, you can spend ages wandering around the wrong place for quite some time, but I liked that. These so-called walking simulators are designed for that – to walk around, to find things and take your time, and In Rays of the Light does a great job of that. The very fact that there’s no risk in the game will put people off, I’ve very little doubt of that, and if you’re going into this hoping for a Layers of Fear style haunted-deserted-house scenario you won’t find that.

So if you’re happy with the idea that this is only going to take as much time as it’d take to watch a film, aren’t worried that there’s no way you can be eaten by monsters and like the idea of just having an entire abandoned school to yourself to explore, figuring out secrets and backstory as you go… well, this could be right up your street. A very decent, if all-too-brief, gaming experience.

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