My first experience with developer Sergey Noskov’s work was 7th Sector on the PS4, but I was impressed with the level of fidelity, the smart puzzles, and the superb atmosphere. When I heard about his new title, In Rays of The Light, I knew I had to check it out. This is a remake of a 2012 title from Noskov called The Light, and it comes to us with a modest price tag to reflect its intentional short run time of a couple hours.
Some of my favorite experiences in gaming come from these bite-sized experiences, but does In Rays of The Light leave a lasting impression, or does this haunting trip through a post-apocalyptic world leave little to remember? Let’s find out!
A Brief, but Powerfully Atmospheric Adventure
In Rays of The Light is game that prides itself on the strength of both its presentation and its atmosphere. Despite giving you a rusted pipe to carry around early on, the game won’t throw enemies at you. This is a methodical adventure through the ruins of a post-apocalyptic world where the end has already come and gone. It’s up to you to explore, solve some puzzles, and ultimately learn more about what happened.
One thing I noticed early on is the haunting atmosphere that clings to everything around you. The game’s music is excellent, but the its the absence of it that really drives home how alone you truly are as you walk the halls of a school that has spent what seems like decades succumbing to nature. The early portions of the game have you exploring various rooms, hunting down keys, and reading notes through the main building before venturing outside and eventually into the basement.
Throughout all of this, In Rays of The Light always makes you feel like someone could be waiting just around the corner. Despite the abandoned nature of the environments, there’s this feeling of a missing presence in all of the rooms and throughout the grounds surrounding the building.
It’s a combination of things, from objects and furniture strewn around the rooms, to clever use of music and audio, to the methodical pace of your movement. Even hitting the run button doesn’t quite move you fast enough to really fly by the details around you. One thing I will say is that the default sensitivity is a little low, but I was able to turn it up in the options menu on PS5 to where it felt more responsive, though quick reflexes are not a requirement.
While there isn’t much in the way of spoken dialogue, I do recommend having the subtitles on, as they seem to control whether you see messages such as “there’s no power” when you interact with objects. You’ll also get translated subtitles for the times where there are spoken lines if this is turned on.
There’s no real direction throughout In Rays of The Light, but this allows you to explore and complete the various elements of the game at your leisure. You do find a map that you can use, which becomes marked as you encounter various things, but those who want a bit of direction may find themselves a little lost at times here.
None of the puzzles are very difficult, but they do range from straightforward to more abstract solutions as I discovered. Despite the lack of combat, the game also strays into the realm of horror more than a few times before the credits roll. Clever use of visuals, claustrophobic audio, and anxiety-inducing sounds like air sirens are used to great effect in later parts of the game.
Among all of this are the notes you find throughout, which offer haunting recollections of what happened in the areas you’re exploring. These moments of straightforward story are haunting and sometimes heartbreaking as well. I would have liked to see more of them, but it’s always nice to have additional context through notes like these.
By the time the credits roll, you’ll be left with more questions than answers, but no one can deny the message behind the tale. It may be a little forced at times, but it’s one that resonates well with our modern world, and it’s interesting that this game’s original roots as a 2012 PC title offer a story that resonates just as true almost a decade later.
Style and Substance, with a Few Caveats
In Rays of The Light is a game that offers multiple endings, but doesn’t give you a lot of reason to play it more than once. It’s an experience in that regard, but one that capitalizes on sharp visuals, superb atmosphere, and excellent audio design throughout. The soundtrack is excellent as part of the audio, offering haunting piano and smart uses of silence to reinforce the more tense sections of the game.
For the perfectly reasonable price, In Rays of The Light is a game that will appeal to fans of short, poignant experiences. Horror fans will enjoy the exercise in atmosphere and visual design, but ultimately this is a game for those who value strong atmosphere and an ambiguous story. For the asking price, it’s certainly worth taking a walk through this broken world.
Final Score: 7.0/10
A Copy of In Rays of The Light was provided to PS5 Gamers for Review Purposes
Article by – Bradley Ramsey
Insert date – 3/19/2021