Lichtspeer is a game you have played before, seen before, or heard of before in some form, fashion, or variation. These games are a dime a dozen on any eShop or Play Store. But few make it both work and feel fresh. Lichtspeer does, in fact, do this.
The easiest way for me to explain Lichtspeer is to say it is a mash up of Angry Birds meets Plants VS Zombies meets Ghosts ‘N Goblins. The setting is that of a Heavy Metal album from the 80’s: A dystopian Germanic future. The only thing missing is an undead Hitler T-Rex. You are simply entertainment for a certain bored Lichtgod. Surviving or not, mostly not and often at that, as he watches and heckles from the sideline. He bestows upon you the legendary Lichtspeer with which you must fend off waves of oncoming undead enemies.
Phase 1: Throw spear. Phase 2: ??? Phase 3: Profit! Simple, right? Not so fast. The game becomes brutal and fairly fast. There are two things certain in Lichtspeer: You will throw many many spears and you will die many many many times. Each stage is split into five sections. You, the hero, are in a stationary position usually to the far left. Hold A to charge your throw, use left thumb stick to aim higher or lower to account for arc, release A to hurl spear across the screen hopefully hitting an advancing enemy, preferably in the head. Slow moving zombies become fast running ones. Flying undead horses become more and more common. Lumbering giants take multiple shots to fell. Wizards summon death orbs that you must also shoot down. Hell, even walrus’ luge into the air to squash you.
The gameplay is repetitive and there is a certain mastery you begin seeing yourself have in aiming at specific enemies. Flying horses were awkward and uncomfortable at first, but quickly became easy and routine as each enemy has their specific angle from which they attack. Lichtspeer does combat this, and rather well, by changing your position on certain stages. Going from bottom left to top left sounds simplistic, and it is, but it totally changes it up just the right amount. Enemies that became easy suddenly require a new learning curve. Just a few mistimed throws can be all the difference in later levels. The environment also becomes part of the game as boats, shields and walls can all block shots.
Special abilities are the final way that the developers gave to make Lichtspeer feel less repetitive. To start with, you get the ability to separate your spear into three separate ones with the push of the B button. Y will activate another ability, such as a beam of light destroying anything it touches. Hitting X can bring up a shield to help defend you. With 10 abilities to play with, you can enjoy them for quit some time, learning new and fresh strategies.
Boss fights, however, became less about learning the strategy and more about simply dying until you happened across the proper arch that you were already attempting. You know what to do, they just give such little time to implement it that I just become used to dying and attempting it over again. Special abilities do not work during the boss fights either so it is just you, Lichtspeer, and an incredibly small aim window.
Completing the game’s 13 levels opens up New Game + which ramps up the number of enemies. And for the most masochistic, there is a Rage Quit mode where they kindly remove the check points between each section. I leave that one to a better person than I to review. The Switch also includes an exclusive co-op game mode. Your partner controls a spear tossing canine that floats over top you. Granting you, basically, double the firing power.
The visuals are much like the game… simple but surprisingly effective. There is a definite style to the art and there is absolutely a beauty to it. Each piece was static but was steeped in color and its own personality. Even your deaths, as horrific as they could be, had a sense of beauty and style to them.
I have never been a person that could pin point a sound track as being stellar and memorable so when a soundtrack does stand out, that truly is a unique experience for me. This, however, is not one of those moments. While the developers were able to help mask the redundancy in the game play, they were not able to do so in the audio department.
At the end of the day, Lichtspeer is still that mobile game that you have heard of or played before. It does a good job of masking that it is something you have played before but in the end, you are flinging birds in the air. The core is a proven one and they mix things up enough to make it fresher longer, but by the end of the game, 95% of your time is judging your angle and throwing. That said, Lichtspeer is that game that was hard for me to pick up… but then again, hard to put down.