htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary Review
Do you like puzzle games? How about strategy games? How about a game with both, that is perhaps one of the more challenging puzzle games I’ve ever played personally? Well, look no further as NIS America has graced us with yet another great title that is both beautifully done and frustratingly challenging – htoL#: The Firefly Diary.
Developer: NIS America
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Release Date: February 24, 2015 (NA)
At first glance, the game is beautifully illustrated. It has the adorable anime-chibi lead character, and the color scheme is both that of semi-brights with a slight darkness that overlays it. The game starts right off with what feels like a tutorial of sorts (as all games do) that walks you through the mechanics of the game. In htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary, you do not make use of any of the PS Vita’s buttons, but rather rely quite heavily on front touchscreen and rear touchpad.
You use the front touchscreen to move around the light firefly in the “World of Light” to guide Mion, the young girl that has found herself awakened in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic era. When you touch the rear touchpad, you gain control over the shadow firefly in the “World of Shadow”, where you guide it to hit switches or smack shadow baddies all with the tap of your finger. But here is the challenging part – the shadow firefly can only get around through means of the shadows, if there is no shadow, there is no going in that direction.
The point of the whole game is reclaim Mion’s memories, as it seems to display in the game that she has no clue what has transpired in the world she has awakened in. You’ll know you have found a memory when you come across a glowing sprout. Upon touching the glowing sprout, your Vita screen will fizzle and pixelate a bit (Yeah, the first time I found a memory, I thought my Vita screen broke. Imagine my happiness when I came to discover it was all just part of the game). Once that occurs, you’re thrown into a very pixelated dream sequence of sorts where you lead Mion around by your fingertip as she revisits memories of her past, memories she has long forgotten.
I’m not going to lie, the game is one of the hardest strategy/puzzle games I’ve played. I’ve even had to sit it down a time or two to recollect my thoughts before going back to it. Not only do the touchscreen and touchpad make it difficult at times (Example: Hitting the wrong touchpad at the wrong time just by attempting to re-adjust the Vita in your hands), but the puzzles in the game are quite the challenge. A lot of patience and strategizing is required for this game. Think of it as a more lit-up version of Limbo, but about 100x harder, but with a cute chibi girl as your lead.
Though the game is very fun and challenging, I wouldn’t recommend this game for just your everyday casual gamer. It’s meant for those who have extreme patience, absolutely LOVE a good challenge, and are major fans of puzzle/strategy games. So if you liked Limbo, and love making use of touchscreens and hate using buttons to play a game, this is the game for you!
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