Lightfield is described as a hyper futuristic racing game that offers up a parkour twist, being that you can drive on any surface to piece together the fastest racing line to see you to victory. The concept is terrific and really does prove to be satisfying and even exhilarating for the initial phases of play, but the entire package is weighed down by poor design choices and overly repetitive gameplay. It’s a shame really because with so many racing games releasing as we draw towards the end of the year it’s important that each title stands out on its own unique merits, and although Lightfield does promise to do just that, it falls short of greatness in almost everything that it sets out to deliver.
First and foremost is the actual gameplay. Despite the fact that you’re free to race your anti-gravity spaceship in any omnidirectional route you wish to aim for, it’s overly confusing. Not because the level design is off or the controls feel out of touch, but because when you find yourself flung in the wrong direction, you’re given no direction as to where you should be heading when you’re trying to regain your bearings. Sure, you get told that you’re facing the wrong way if you turn around and there’s a lit path that you can take to if you want the easy route, but this game is suggested to be all about freedom and chance, only seems to disregard you almost completely when you show daring.
Mercifully the controls are super easy to bond with. You have your acceleration and your parkour, as well as directional control. Utilising the parkour will see you hugging whatever platform you are on, which in essence will tether you to it to offer up more control over your movement. You can perform mini-jumps when you release the parkour and move in unity with the command which helps you to overcome each track at certain sections of play. Once you have a firm grasp on how your anti-gravity spaceship moves, you’ll soon be taking chances as you race on ceilings, walls, and clear gravity defying jumps whilst scrambling to the finish. You can also adjust the parameters of the pace too by slowing it down to a snail pace or bumping it all the way up to a point in which Anakin Skywalker would be proud of.
The level design is easily the showstopper in Lightfield. There’s only a handful of tracks at the time of writing, and whether any more are due to be added is yet to be known, but the ones on offer are well designed and gorgeous to observe. Gameplay typically sees you racing on the same track over and over until you’ve earned enough points to unlock a new track. There’s not a great deal of structure or depth to the overall package, so it’s best to see this game as a competitive arcade game than anything else. The problem however is that despite the excellent level design, each race feels quite monotonous. This, as alluded to above when I mentioned poor design choices, is certainly going to hold Lightfield back in the long run.
The speed in which you’re able to utilise is capped, which is standard for any racer. The issue on the other hand is that that’s it, there’s no boost that you can enjoy or speed panels, just the maximum speed that your ship can reach and that’s all that you have. It would have been nice to see some form of speed thrust on track or via a gauge that most given racer games house, but alas beggars cannot be choosers. The best portions of play can be found outside of the core mode, this is served through split-screen local play or by taking to the exploration mode that sees you collecting items in exchange for more points. There’s nothing groundbreaking here but these additions do add more variety nevertheless.
Lightfield is an okay racer that tries to stand out in a crowded genre, but does very little to captivate and hold your interest once you sink in. The first hour of play is going to be no different to your tenth hour of play, and despite the interesting parkour mechanics and freedom to go where you want and when you want, the gameplay ultimately feels repetitive and monotonous. The level design is excellent and captures the theme of the game magnificently, but with few modes on offer and the lack of any real structure, Lightfield falls short of greatness in almost everything that it sets out to achieve. When you take the steep(ish) price tag into account and weigh it up against what you’re getting in return, you may want to think twice before investing. It’s not a terrible game, it’s just not a very good one.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.