The sun is dying, infested by a race of eldritch parasites known only as the Ramora. These creatures – which feed on light – have spread through the solar system like a plague, consuming all in their wake. Left unchecked, they will devour what light remains, consigning every planet in the system to a slow, cold death.
You are a being of pure light known only as The Shiner. Summoned from the starlight and given shape by an ancient suit of armor, you're given the task of driving of the Ramora, restoring the sun, and saving the entire solar system. No pressure, right?
Glare represents Phobic Studios' first step into PC, Mac, and Linux from mobile development. Having played the game, it's not terribly obvious – Glare is every bit as polished a platformer as you'd see from a veteran PC developer. It's probably one of the most beautiful titles I've played this year, complete with top-notch level design and a wonderful soundtrack.
The central mechanic of Glare is – rather fittingly – Shiner's gaze, which takes the form of a cone of bright light. Focusing this gaze through the eyes of Shiner's armor has a whole array of effects, including making plants grow, picking up objects, activating machinery, attaching to grapple points, knocking back hostile enemies and deflecting projectiles.
Although you'll gain access to new abilities and upgrades as you make your way through the solar system – including a gun and a rather devastating solar bomb – the glare still remains your primary tool for progression.
Speaking of progression, this is something that Glare does extremely well. Thanks to some nifty 2.5D effects, the planets you're on "curve" more and more as you move closer to their center, lending everything a noticeable sense of scale. The platforming elements are well-designed, as well: none of the abilities you unlock ever feel irrelevant, and I found myself meeting a new challenge around every turn even as I mastered mechanics I'd previously learned.
What's more, I never really felt frustrated by Glare. Even in the most challenging segments, I found myself happily basking in the game's aesthetics. Whatever else you might say about Phobic's title, the environments are pure scenery porn, with beautiful backdrops and gorgeous particle and light effects. The soundtrack only makes the experience all the sweeter.
Of course, aesthetics isn't the only department in which Glare shines. Gameplay-wise, it's a cut above the competition, as well. I found the controls to be both simple and responsive (fair warning, though: this is a title that feels as though it was made to be played with a controller), and the platforming elements to be incredibly fun, with just the right combination of speed and challenge.
Glare isn't perfect, of course. If I've one gripe with the game, it's the boss battles. At the end of each stage, you'll lock horns with the world's corrupted core. Each battle is functionally the same as the last – shine your light on the core until you break through its armor, then unload on it while avoiding everything it throws at you. Although the cores learn some new tricks as the game moves forward (for example, indestructible projectiles that ricochet around the battlefield), the fights still feel as though they're rather sorely lacking in variety.
It's not a long game, either – I finished the whole thing in around two-and-a-half hours (though I still need to play through again in order to collect all the artifacts).
Even so, I'd still urge you to Glare a try. It's an incredibly impressive first step into PC development for Phobic Studios' expanded team. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying I'm very much looking forward to the second.
GameDynamo's Score for Glare (PC)
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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