Ashi: Lake of Light
Guiding insects round Ashi: Lake of Light.
Ais a relaxing spatial puzzle game somewhere on the opposite end of the pain spectrum to games like It’s a top-down affair which deals in glowing lanterns, twinkling fireflies and right-angle turns. You, the mistress of the fireflies (as I have chosen to think of myself in this case) must guide one firefly from its starting lily pad to a little gateway across the lake.
Fireflies only fly in straight lines so you’ll need to use lanterns to steer the insects around the surface of the pond. The basic rule is that if a firefly passes a lantern with a lit candle inside, its pathway will bend around that lantern and make the insect turn left or right. As the game goes on, you get new tools and rules to play with.
Some are variations on the basics – stronger lights make the insect stick to the lantern longer, meaning it can double back on itself or turn a three-quarter circle. Others involve warp points which spit the firefly out in different areas or symbols which convert its tail light from red to blue. The latter means the firefly stops paying attention to the red lanterns and only reacts to the blue ones.
Despite the accumulation of different rules and elements to
consider, Ashi continues to feel manageable. Firstly, there are a limited number of elements to tweak in a given puzzle. Often I can see what I need to do by looking at the layout to see what I can or can’t change and then working backwards from the exit point to see how the firefly needs to move.
Secondly, once you release the firefly and let it follow the path you’ve laid out, it leaves a trail to mark where it’s been. This remains on the screen until you change any of the variables for a new attempt. As a result you can often use the older path to work out where the problem in navigation lies.
At its most pleasant, the result is a mild set of puzzles where it’s hard to get stuck. My favourite part was watching the firefly meander through the solutions – it’s not dissimilar to the feeling of watching a row of dominos fall or a little wind-up toy go about its mechanical business.
The weakness is that you can bumble through without feeling much traction. There were a few little difficulty spikes – maybe four of five puzzles after the halfway mark – which offered up more of a challenge.
These points of friction imply that there’s potential for more fiendish puzzling using the same rules. I’d have liked to see more in that vein as the difficulty never really seemed to ramp up, even though the PC release bundles in what are referred to as “super-challenging bonus puzzles”.
The mixture of soothing and challenging never quite resolved into a strong experience for me but at less than three quid Ashi is a nice lunchtime game. If you find it easy, there’s pleasure in watching solutions unfold. If you find it tricky it’ll be a bit meatier as a puzzle experience.
At less than three quid Ashi is a nice lunchtime game
There’s no penalty for planning an experimental run.
The blue lily pad points in the direction you’ll start heading.
You’ll need to complete both branches to advance.
Some levels look a bit intimidating at first!