Review – Projection: First Light

2D platformers are a dime a dozen, but sometimes one comes along that surprises you. I had been pleasantly surprised by another title from Blowfish Studios with Infliction, so my curiosity was piqued when I saw they were releasing a new 2D platformer. While I love platformers, many of them feel stale; simply rehashing the same ideas over and over. Projection: First Light on the other hand, sheds a new light on the genre in a most refreshing way.

The premise of Projection: First Light is very basic. Told wordlessly through shadow puppetry, we follow Greta as she embarks on a grand adventure. Seeing a brightly illuminated butterfly, she decides to try and catch it and accidentally causes damage around the city. She is then grounded by her parents and decides to escape through a small doorway in the top of her room. This leads to a journey of exploration and enlightenment as she travels through Indonesia, China, Turkey, Greece, and England.

Projection: First Light

You could say that this theater sets the stage for what’s to come.

The gameplay in Projection: First Light is a quite simplistic, yet brilliant. Since the whole game looks like shadow puppetry, the platforms Greta will need to use to advance come from shadows. This is an idea of pure genius and it’s executed wonderfully. You’ll be able to take control of a small ball of light along with Greta, which you can freely move around the screen. Depending on where you move it, shadows will be cast in all different directions. You’ll have to carefully figure out where to move this point of light so Greta can use the shadow platforms to get to her next area.

Projection: First Light

Collecting these butterflies provides Greta with more of a challenge.

It’s not all just trying to get from point A to point B though. Along the way Greta will come across various obstacles she’ll have to get past. These can range from coming up with creative solutions to get to hard to reach butterflies, to rolling giant stones onto switches. All of these things need to be accomplished be strategically manipulating the debris and shadows in each area. There are even a few bosses to defeat in this same manner. This keeps the game feeling fresh throughout its entirety.

Projection: First Light

One of the earliest rolling rock puzzles.

Aside from the ingenious idea of using light and shadow to create platforms, the art style is another strong feature of the game. The art design in Projection: First Light is absolutely beautiful. The whole game had a lightbox, diorama look, complete with layers of shadows to give the areas some more depth. Each area is tailored to look like a specific region she is in, from the forests of Indonesia to the iconic architecture of ancient China. The lighting effects are flawlessly done, which is crucial for a game hinging its entire premise upon them.

Projection: First Light

Little bits of a narrative are sprinkled throughout.

The sound design, while good, is probably one of the weaker aspects of the game. There is no voice acting, so the entire game delivers its narrative wordlessly, like in Limbo or Creaks. In this regard, it’s very well done and effective. The problem is that while the musical score fits the game fairly well in most areas, it’s somewhat forgettable. The only other sound effects are barely noticeable, aside from the twinkling sound of the light source as you move it, which can get a little annoying after a while.

Projection: First Light is a game that not only surprised me with its concept, but with its solid execution. It has a simple, yet incredible idea that I’m shocked hasn’t been utilized before. At least to this degree. The art style is beautiful with a subtle grace that adds to the whimsy of its narrative. Any fans of 2D platformers, puzzle games, or artistic indie darlings should take a look at Projection: First Light.


Graphics: 9.0

The lightbox, diorama-styled art design is simple, yet striking. The lighting effects are dynamic, which is perfect for the theme of the game.

Gameplay: 8.0

It’s a 2D platformer, with the unique mechanic of creating platforms from manipulating light and shadows. 

Sound: 7.0

There’s no voice acting, but the soundtrack fits the game well, even if it’s not terribly memorable.

Fun Factor: 8.5

The clever use of light manipulation to create platforms and interact with objects is brilliant. The steady introduction of new ideas and puzzles keeps the game feeling fresh.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Projection: First Light is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

Reviewed on Switch

A copy of Projection: First Light was provided by the publisher.