REVIEW: Fright Light

When it comes to cheesy horror, we’ve all done it; yelled at a character onscreen (or in-game, as it were) to get the hell out of the obviously-haunted house, ditch the creepy dude and call the police, etc., etc.. Part of that is probably human instinct1. The other part is what makes those movies (and games, as it were) fun— we watch as other people continually fling themselves into terrifying situations, and subsequently pay for those mistakes.

Fright Light ($1.00) is one of those times you find yourself inexplicably talking to the screen, imploring a fictional person to get the hell out the obviously-terrible house. You don’t say this because you’re concerned for anyone’s well-being, though, but rather for the fact that you’ve seen this scene before, and you already know the ending. Like those cheesy horror films you love to hate, there comes a point when something that should be scary no longer really is.

Fright Light - Screen

Looks familiar, feels familiar.

To be fair, a lot of that has to do with familiarity and timing. Fright Light is the sequel to a sort-of sequel to an original game, which was almost certainly inspired by another game. These three games on XBLIG also come in on the heels of each other, their releases spaced out in just over a month’s time. And much like in those previous games, Fright Light is low-budget horror, relying on jump scares—and the constant threat of those jump scares— to prop up the rest of the experience and keep you continually on edge.

Fright Light returns the series to a stationary setting, with you sitting in front of a laptop and watching the feed from security cameras posted around the house. Intruders2 enter and leave the various rooms, making their way towards you. Your goal is to the survive the night, naturally,  spread out over several hours. The story that accompanies each ‘hour’ is cheesy and humorous, dealing with escaped patients from an insane asylum (and a four-foot tarantula).

The game ups the ante in terms of baddies, giving you up to four intruders to avoid at a time. In a convenient twist, all of them are sensitive to the beam of your flashlight you just so happen to carry, granting you a momentary breather should any of them reach the door outside your room. Just as convenient, said flashlight runs on batteries, batteries which happen to die off just as quickly as they are loaded into it. This in turn creates the game’s chief form of tension, forcing you to guess at when and how to use the flashlight.

Fright Light - Screen2

Sadly, some of that challenge and tension is diluted by the game’s camera system, which simply flashes whenever an intruder is in the room you’re watching. While that undoubtedly makes it easier to track multiple intruders at once, not having to frantically scan the rooms yourself takes away from the inevitable jump scares. The game does benefit from changes and increased polish elsewhere, though, including smoother stop-motion transitions and death scenes. They feel like small additions to a game that feels largely the same as the ones that came before it.

That leaves this release stuck somewhere in the middle. Improvements to the pacing and the room layouts are certainly welcome, but the third time around is not necessarily the charm. The jump scares still do their job3, yet the idea has been stretched thin, and the market, now oversaturated. Fright Light is more of the same, just tweaked. It’s up to you to decide if those changes are worth another night in a well-tread house.

.

(EDIT 12 / 1: An update to the game has lowered the cost to $1, and increased the difficulty / timing of the enemies.)


  1. The mostly-good kind, anyway. We do want to help people, so long as it doesn’t threaten and / or inconvenience us in the process. If it does… ‘Shit, buddy, you’re on your own. Sucks for you.’ 
  2. That low budget applies to your enemies as well, with returning favorites like ‘Man in Hockey Mask’, ‘Man in Wolf Mask’, and ‘Toy Spider’. Honestly, it’s worth a chuckle, and fits the game’s theme well. 
  3. As this compilation of clips can attest to
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20 thoughts on “REVIEW: Fright Light”

  1. I am waiting on an update that will greatly increase the game’s difficulty and reduce the price to $0.99. I cut some or the footage differently to reduce download size below the 150 MB threshold.

    1. Ah, that should address a few complaints from any veteran players that might have felt it was too easy. As far as the original $3 tag goes, yeah, unfortunately, XBLIG is not a place that people will regularly drop that kind of money on, and I’ve always got to make note of any game that tries to. Hell, it’s hard to get people to pay a dollar on the App Store these days. The world has gone crazy; people think other people’s hard work and IPs should be free to them. ❓

    2. But yet those same people will pay $60 or more for a game that is hyped up by those that profit from the sale of that game even before it hits the marketplace. We live in a crazy world for sure!!

    3. True, but then they’ll still whine about how the game didn’t meet their expectations, or online issues, or DLC, etc., etc. Granted, some of it is justified (there was an interesting article a few weeks ago about how we’re now conditioned to play / accept broken or incomplete AAA games), but there are certainly the types that just come in to complain. It’s quite the phenomenon with the $60 games, though. I’m guilty of that myself, choosing to ‘demo’ indie games before I buy but dropping $60 for unproven games (and yes, pre-ordering them well in advance). I’m ashamed of myself. 😀

      Easily though, the most persistent types I’ve seen are the ones that outright refuse to pay any kind of money for a game, and drop 1-star reviews on the appstore for that reason alone. Having an opinion is one thing, but downvoting something purely because the developer has the audacity to charge you for that entertainment… that’s sad stuff, agreed.

    4. Update complete! The game is now $1, the flashlight takes much longer to reload, and the enemies will now wait a little bit to see if they can catch you looking at the door instead of immediately getting you while you look at the laptop.

  2. OK so last night I finally got around to playing all three of these games that was so graciously gifted to me by Tim and Chris and officially I had 9 heart attacks, 5 strokes, I pissed myself once and the not so great gamer that I am I was not able to complete even one of them all the way through.

    Thanks guys….I think! 😀

    1. Haha, glad you enjoyed them… I think? I’d say you should seek medical attention (and a change of clothes 😉 ), but it sounds like you’ve recovered. And don’t feel bad; I’ve never made it through one of the games entirely either. Usually, the 7th / 8th day / hour does me in.

    1. Yeah, nothing wrong with a little DIY film-making. 🙂 Cheesy stuff, but tolerable given the theme. The YouTubers have a field day with this stuff, I’m sure.

      Maybe I’m just worn out on the idea, having played three versions of it now over the course of a month. A break will be nice.

    2. Thanks BandanaGames, I’m glad you liked them. I have a feeling your Dead War is going to do awesome. If you do a search for “one night two crazies” on youtube you will find a slew of people already willing to broadcast letsplays of your game I’m sure.

      Regarding making the videos… it’s a huge pain in the butt!!! I take a video where I move very slowly and exaggerate the movements so nothing is blurry. Then I take still images to connect them together and create the final “movie”. Lot of trial and error to get the timing right.

      Oh, and if I make a mistake, I have to rerecord EVERY possible movie associated with that scene. So if it’s the scare coming into the room, I have to re-record all four baddies so that the camera isn’t in a different position for one and not the others.

      Last but not least (and the worst) is getting the lighting right. In a game you can set the lighting and adjust it but in a real life image? Not so easy haha!

    3. Yikes, I tend to forget about things like that, but yeah, when you’re working with video / still images, it presents a whole new roster of problems. Even the ‘low-budget’ look (as I call it 😉 ) takes a huge amount of planning and a careful hand. Props to you on that.

  3. Still up for ‘jump scares’ and the return of a giant toy spider? I’ve got two codes for Fright Light to give away, courtesy of the developer. Simply reply to this comment, and a code can be yours!

  4. Thanks for the review Tim! They’re always well thought out and honest. The cost increase was due to the mandatory minimum price when games are over 150 MB.

    I’m happy to say I have a non horror action game in review right now as well for theAntoni 😉

    1. No problem, and yes, I saw that comment on one of your YouTube videos, I believe. I figured the smoothed-out transitions would come at a cost, and that cost would an increased cost. 🙂 That aside, I think I’m burned out on this series already, so thanks for being understanding in that regard.

      But… maybe the next game will be more suited to my palette. Have to keep ‘theAntoni’ engine revving and ready to go, of course. 😉

    2. Haha, it’s got to the low rent / mortgage, or maybe the taxes on the home aren’t that bad. Tell you what, it has to be a bad neighborhood to install cameras in EVERY room of your house. And once the masked individuals start showing up? Yeah, it’s time to move, sir. 😛

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