The Japanese eShop is currently getting tons of new games, but even though there’s the issue with the language barrier in many of those games, the cheap asking price, my morbid curiosity, and the fact there isn’t much going on in the American store are enough to make me buy those random games in bunches. Photon³ (also known as Photon Cube) is a new puzzle game released for the Switch and the Vita, featuring light stream based puzzles as its main catch. How good is it?
Photon³ revolves around guiding laser beams from their source to a target, by the means of using cube-shaped mirrors and colorful cubes in order to change the beam’s color. Remember those light-based exercises from your high school physics class, complete with color mixing and mirrors? It’s pretty much that, but with cute anime characters and a lot of incomprehensible Japanese text. It checks all the passable boxes in terms of art design, music, and controls. It looks okay (certainly better than the myriad of iOS ports on the Switch), sounds okay, and controls fine enough, given how simple the gameplay is, with the exception of wonky camera controls which, thankfully enough, aren’t needed that much throughout the game.
The game’s biggest catch is also something that might be considered its biggest flaw by some people: its difficulty. Photon³ starts with two or three pretty simple and straightforward puzzles which won’t require much thought or retries, but then it’ll quickly become a very challenging and, for some people, slightly frustrating tough nut to crack. The difficulty spike is really steep, and coupled with the lack of an English tutorial to guide you (definitely not a flaw of the game per se, blame me for venturing foreign stores), you’ll get stuck in many of the puzzles for a long time. The game features challenges for completionists, such as completing a level in a predetermined number of moves and completing puzzles without failing once.
Once you beat a puzzle, either two of the following reactions will occur: you’ll either be incredibly relieved with the fact you’ve finally beaten a level you’ve been stuck on for the past couple of hours, or you’ll feel like a complete idiot once you realize you could have beaten the puzzle in about ten moves while you weren’t being able to do so with a hundred. Video games are fun!
Photon³ wasn’t exactly the greatest puzzle I’ve played in a while, let alone for the Switch (that title goes to the great Puyo Puyo Tetris), but it was a decent and very challenging pastime well worth its reasonable pricetag. Don’t let the cutesy anime girl looks fool you, my friend. Those puzzles will make your head explode Scanners-style. And then make you really angry once you realize how easy the solution actually was.
Also available on: PS Vita