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Every morning I wake up, I scrub off the stench of the previous day in the shower, rifle through my drawers in an effort to pick the perfect combination of clobber, and have the first of the 26 cups of tea I’ll aim to drink throughout the day. And I also check Twitter. It’s very handy — recently it told me Christine Bleakley’s husband is after retiring, one of the Nolan sisters won Big Brother, and the world is on fire. It’s a scary place out there in 2017, with both sides at loggerheads. Check any of your social media feeds and you’ll see families feuding, or complete strangers going at each others’ throats. Linelight couldn’t have come at a better time.
While I’m a sucker for a beautifully told video game story, or a bombastic AAA affair that is littered in explosions and lines like, ‘I didn’t ask for this,’ I can appreciate the stripped-back nature of Linelight, now more than ever. As a nimble, glowing white line, you move along a set of paths, collecting glowing orbs along the way. There’s a few obstacles present like equally nimble, glowing red lines that are bould pups and will stop you dead in your tracks if you run into them, and some paths require you to pass through switches to move platforms around so you can build bridges. All this happens on a minimal 2D plain that requires very little getting used to. Within about eight seconds, it’s clear what you have to do, and there’s one word for it: lovely.
Backed up by some wonderfully soothing piano, Linelight is the type of game that could’ve easily felt at home on a console from 10 or more years ago because of its simplicity. The difficulty steadily ramps up, with odd spikes to throw you a little off kilter as new mechanics are introduced, but it’s so quick to get you back on its long and winding board that any mistakes are quickly forgotten as you breeze through a particular section and onto the next. Naturally, as puzzle game, Linelight doesn’t offer much if you want to return to its tranquility after figuring out all of the solutions, but that’s okay because that first time you zip ‘round its peaceful track, you’ll feel at ease — at peace, almost.
I’ve never meditated before so I’m not the authority on this, but I could feel myself going into a trance-like state when all the pieces were in the right place and I was making this illuminative polygon bolt about the place like a Jamaican sprinter. Every now and again, however, even Olympic medal winners come up against and tough opposition, forcing them to push themselves harder than they normally would and Linelight does similar. Its relaxing atmosphere brings you in as you dash through a myriad of puzzles before coming across one that requires your brain to wake up and poses more of a challenge.
It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor does it compare to some other recent puzzle games that took the genre in places people couldn’t have imagined — but it’s not trying to do that, either. To call a spade a small shovel, it’s just nice. It’s a delightful little distraction that, selfishly, couldn’t have come at a better time for me. When I wake up in the morning and see a WWE Hall of Famer say some heinous, deplorable shit, Linelight reminds me that we can get pleasures from some of the more simple things in life.