Contrary to how it may seem, it’s not very fun reviewing bad games. Sure, there’s a degree of enjoyment in being mean, but the shocking secret of criticising games that aren’t enjoyable? We still have to play them. Picking up the Switch and knowing we had to play more Gleamlight made the system feel ten times heavier.
Gleamlight’s developers have claimed that their game isn’t a rip-off of Hollow Knight. They’re right. If it was a rip-off, then it’d share some kind of inspiration, some mechanical flair. The creativity, the baseline of enjoyable moments, some solid fundamentals. It’s all missing. It’s not a rip-off of Hollow Knight, it’s a stupid child’s drawing of it.
Harsh, yes, but try playing the thing. The first thing you’ll notice is the substandard, tweened animation that doesn’t fit the aesthetic style at all. The graphics are admittedly attractive at times in their stained-glass splendour, but it’s all in service of nothing. Your character moves like he’s escaped from circa 2002 Newgrounds. Enemies are nondescript, misshapen blobs. Your sword swipe attack strives for the immediacy and tactile precision of Hollow Knight’s pin, but there’s no impact, no power to your attacks.
Gleamlight is worse than the majority of bad games. With most poor-quality titles, the rot is obvious from the word go. Here, the game doesn’t show its true colours until you realise it’s over. Surely, you’ll think, it’s going to pick up? It generally looks nice, after all. It was featured in at least one Indie World presentation, which is usually a mark of at least some quality. But no. It’s atrocious. It’s boring to traverse, feels bad to play, has an insultingly low amount of content and has nothing to recommend it. Hollow Knight is actually cheaper, and there are plenty of lower-tier Switch platformers more deserving of your time than this. FoxyLand. Goblin Sword. Polyroll. Get those three for the same price as Gleamlight, maybe less. They’re not even that good, but they’re ten times the game Gleamlight is. Oh! And the music’s discordant clanging rubbish, too. We hope it gets a physical release so we can throw it in a bin.