Futuristic racing games have been dominated by Wipeout for the best part of the last 2 decades, and now it's facing competition from Lightfield. Albeit with an interesting twist. Lightfield isn't just a pure racer, as it incorporates parkour elements into the mix creating a unique take on the racing genre. Has it worked? Can you pull off seamless manoeuvres along the intricately designed tracks? Then read on.
The Austrian developer has spent the last few years working on Lightfield, creating a beautiful and stunning visual for each of the games tracks. Whilst I mention Wipeout as being the forerunner of futuristic racers, that's really the only comparison I can make about the pair of games. Lightfield's tracks are less of a circuit, with a free roam available to you at any time you choose. Want to take a shortcut to the next checkpoint? Then you're free to do just that. Whether that be during a race or the time trials, you're allowed to go off in search of the treasures on each track for XP that will eventually unlock the next track once you've accrued the relevant amount.
Lightfield is far from a bad game, and yet it doesn't quite nail the racer feel like I was hoping it would. It runs a smooth frame rate, even if you hike up the game speed in the options. As the default state just doesn't give off that sense of high octane action that a futuristic racer should have. But once I increased the game speed, I found that the steering became far too sensitive to control my vehicle and I was all over the track like an erratic bumblebee.
Another gripe I have to call Lightfield out for, was the lack of any career mode. Choosing to participate in the actual races was just endless laps, without any goal to aim for. The same goes for time trials. I was kind of disappointed, as each level has a track layout to follow, and given how big the levels are, it would have been curious to see how many layouts could have been created to form a Championship career mode to test you skills against the AI. As it stands, it feels like it's a demo version of the final product. A crying shame, as what the Austrian team behind it have certainly got a talent for game development, and with more time could have created an immersive experience for fans of the racing genre.
With the single player layer out of the way, it was time to dive into the multiplayer aspect. With up to 4 people to group together, Lightfield could potentially prove to be a far more enjoyable party game than a single player experience. But as before, it's just not cutting the mustard with the endless laps. No end means no real victory for anyone. On the plus side, there are leaderboards which track your best times for each lap, so bragging rights can be claimed.
The soundtrack is not something I would listen to personally, as it's just not my usual cup of tea. But I will admit I not only enjoyed it, but it suited the style of Lightfield. A blaring rock soundtrack just wouldn't be right in this instance.
To to say I had high hopes for Lightfield would be an understatement. The potential is there in every way. It's just the execution of it all left me wondering if the developer didn't have the time to implement a career mode, or they just didn't bother. One for them to answer. Maybe in the near future they can include something that gives us a challenge to aim for with a Championship mode, as it would give their debut title so much more oomph.
Learning the controls was relatively painless, as there's not much that you need to remember. But executing jumps between surfaces didn't feel as intuitive as it could have been. Watching the AI perform all manner of cool moves and then myself as I followed behind by quite some distance at times was disheartening. But after a good few laps I was able to improve upon my lap times and work towards catching up and placing some good times on the leaderboards.
Lightfield is a game with so much potential and could have offered so much more than it did. That's not to say it's a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. Is it worth a look? Sure, but it's a lot better with friends. Unless a true career mode is patched in.
Value for Money: 6
Developer: Lost in the Garden
Publisher: Lost in the Garden
Release Date: 26th September 2017