Whilst it was released a little earlier this year, we’ve only just discovered the joys of Beneath The Lighthouse – a little gem of a puzzle-platformer that we recommend you try out.
Take a look at game developer Nitrome’s back catalogue and you can see where Beneath The Lighthouse gets its charm. The team have brought together a fun, colourful 8-bit art style with a minimal score and simple, but challenging gameplay – everything an engrossing mobile title needs.
The story unfolds when you, a young boy, notices that the light from the lighthouse you look out at every night from your bedroom window hasn’t been lit for a few days and considering your grandpa is the lighthouse keeper, you have fair reason to be worried.
Naturally after sailing out to investigate things go awry and you wind up in the caverns beneath the lighthouse, tasked with navigating a curious tunnel system where each set of paths can rotate around you.
Herein lies the meat of the game, which sees you the player, twist the world around the boy, whose giant circular head perfectly suits rolling around these twisting tunnels navigating from one chamber to the next.
The challenge doesn’t just come from moving around each puzzle however; as you progress you’ll find that walls and platforms may be lined with spikes, floors can crumble away under your weight, mines follow you at every turn and giant sponges force you to keep your finger on the screen in order to traverse certain areas, so there’s no time to catch your breath and step back to assess your next move.
Gravity is both your friend and enemy in Beneath The Lighthouse. Cautiously rolling along a set of platforms is only good for so long, but eventually you’ll find yourself twisting the cavern a little too quickly, flicking the boy into a spiked wall or any number of its other hazards. Herein lies the game’s biggest shortcoming, and it’s more of a practicality of the platform.
As you progress you’ll encounter instances that require quick reflexes, but having to drag your finger around your phone’s screen in a circular pattern means you’ll frequently find your view obscured by your own hand, making it difficult to pinpoint where on-screen the boy is, typically leading to needless lost lives.
Nitrome has implemented an in-app purchase model, but it takes a very considered approach that isn’t too intrusive. Should you let the boy injure himself more than three times in a level you’ll see a pop-up ad from a partner sponsor and then be able to reattempt said level. You can also choose to watch adds or share a link to the game on Facebook or Twitter to replenish hearts if you’re desperate.
The flipside is forking out for the game’s only in-app purchase of £2.99 which effectively does away with the heart system altogether. In a way it makes the game easy as well as removing the third-party ads, as the risk of being pulled back to an earlier part of a stage is greatly reduced. If you think of the ads as punishment for dying, they provide a competent motive to help create a more challenging gameplay experience.
As mentioned earlier, the game uses an 8-bit pixelated art style with a distinctive colour scheme, but beyond it features more conventional visual effects, like dynamic lighting and the whole thing also plays at a consistently smooth frame rate too. The audio scape consists of an immersive soundtrack and great in-game audio fitting of the art style too.
The biggest feather in Beneath The Lighthouse’s cap is the fact that it’s available on Android, iOS and most recently, the newly launched Apple TV.
Beneath The Lighthouse is available now on your app store of choice, absolutely free and we seriously recommend you check it out.