Lighthouse: The Dark Being is a gorgeous excursion into a bizarre, parallel universe filled with exquisitely rendered landscapes, structures, inventions and exotic supernatural alien technology. All of these wonderful qualities mesh with beautifully designed video sequences throughout the adventure and create a surreal, breathtaking world of exploration and survival.
Unfortunately, the old saying "beauty is only skin deep" has never been so aptly applicable as it is here. Normally that lament is directed at the human condition but in this case it fits perfectly when describing the main flaw in Lighthouse: The Dark Being. Sierra On-Line has created a masterful piece of eye-candy with dazzling visual pictures and stunningly executed segments born of spectacular video work but, sad to say, it leaves the player unnecessarily frustrated and more than a little disconcerted.
The game is unusual in the sense that on one hand it is so beautifully done and enjoyable to look at and yet on the flip side the actual gameplay can be cruelly obtuse and even illogical to the point of distraction. Your quest centers on the mysterious mechanical parallel universe inhabited by The Dark Being and your efforts to solve the disappearance of your neighbor (a physicist) and the apparent kidnapping of his baby daughter.
To do this, you must unravel many puzzles that don't always have logic or satisfying solutions attached to them. In fact, clues are at times very difficult to find and an all too often tiresome refrain is checking every piece of inventory you have gathered repeatedly until you find something that clicks. It's true that it's an alien world based on strange mechanical creatures and gadgets and the majority of the puzzles are related to this aspect -- however, some solutions just don't fit our normal intuitive processes that rely on logic and this, at times, seems tragically unfair to the player.
Lighthouse: The Dark Being will take even the most hardened gamer a very long time to complete (without the use of the occasional hint). The adventure is immensely challenging but much too complex for the novice gamer. With the outstanding graphics and sound packages that accompany this trip through the alien fantastic, the game could have been one of the most rewarding experiences in Sierra's long and highly successful history of bringing gamers true adventure titles.
To many of us who like a good adventure, however, this one may be just a little too tough and ultimately unrewarding because of its propensity to leave us frustratingly clueless at times. Obscure, maddeningly difficult and vague though it is, the sheer delightfulness of the visual package can't be ignored. It's an odd entry in the genre of adventure gaming and the ultimate enjoyment will depend entirely on personal taste. In this case a strong sense of patience will go a long way.
Graphics: A total delight to the eyes. Stunning visual effects and killer video sequences. Gorgeous settings in both worlds are a treat to behold.
Sound: Hauntingly effective with good integration into the game.
Enjoyment: Despite the visual excellence of the game, frustrating puzzles and repetitive attempts to move forward that are thwarted by illogical conclusions bring the game far too often to a standstill. A mixed bag of challenging and frustrating gameplay.
Replay Value: If you can stick with it long enough, there are over a dozen solutions possible in this adventure
People who downloaded Lighthouse: The Dark Being have also downloaded:
Shivers, Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes 2 (a.k.a. Case of Rose Tattoo), Shivers Two: Harvest of Souls, Myst 3: Exile, Lost in Time, Myst: Masterpiece Edition, Laura Bow 2: The Dagger of Amon Ra, Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes 1 (a.k.a. Case of the Serrated Scalpel)
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