Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.
The backdrop for Stay Alight is a closeup version of scenes taken from our own world. Or at least it could be from our world. At a place where the grotesque and creepy is challenged by raw steampunk theatrics, Mr. Bulb, the hero of the game, must use his energy to destroy the enemy. An enemy that could best be described as an infestation of tiny green monsters that can hide just about anywhere. To accomplish this task, Mr. Bulb throws out sparks of energy that bounce off some objects and get absorbed by others. When these sparks hit a monster, the monster is eliminated. With each level, the goal is to eliminate all of the tiny green monsters on the screen.
Each level has monsters placed in increasingly challenging positions. By first tapping and holding the screen, you drag your finger around to aim Mr. Bulb’s sparks at the intended target. A trajectory is displayed that represents the path that the sparks will initially take once thrown. The length of the trajectory indicates how hard Mr. Bulb will throw the spark. The longer the trajectory path, the more forceful Mr. Bulb will throw the spark. This allows you to control each shot as sometimes you need to hit a target on the other side of the screen, and other times you need loosen up a bit for a short lob over a close obstacle or even into the opening of a broken bottle top. Bouncing shots off of elements in the environment to get around obscure obstacles becomes a key component of the game.
New, advanced levels are unlocked by completing earlier, easier ones. With the completion of each level you are awarded from one to three stars. These stars unlock other worlds. There are three worlds with 20 levels each, with a fourth world yet to be released.
As the levels progress, different types of sparks that Mr. Bulb can throw are revealed. These new sparks have special abilities: some spread apart into multiple sparks while others will explode, sending four separate sparks in different directions. Learning how best to use each spark is key to advancing.
You can, however, get lucky by taking a couple of well-aimed brute force shots and see how they bounce since you are given ample ammunition at the start of each level. The fewer sparks you use to kill off all of the monsters, the more stars you will earn.
With exploding barrels, rolling spiked boxes that can break apart, and other obstacles that can be thrown about by striking them with a spark, the fact that Mr. Bulb remains stationary on each level does not strike you as an issue. Until you find yourself on a level in which no possible combination of bounces, ricochets or bank shots could ever hit the well-guarded little monsters. Then you realize that the incandescent Mr. Bulb can solicit help from his fluorescent-minded friend. Two lightbulb-minded heroes are better than one in such situations. The challenge is getting the spark into the hands of of the other bulb for a second throw.
This is accomplished by carefully passing the spark from one bulb to the next. Once the second bulb catches the spark, it can then re-throw it a second time. Planning out your shots, determining which bulb is better situated to take it, and perfecting your passing skills adds a new dimension to the game and opens up a lot of creativity in level design. There certainly are times when successfully tossing the spark back and forth consumes your attention so much that you forget about the monsters you need to destroy.
There are in-app purchases that you can make that will enable special powers that Mr. Bulb can call upon. These include using a fly swatter, a spray can, freezing and summoning an earthquake. Each of these special powers can be used to get past certain hidden monsters. But don’t give in so quickly — it may take a couple of tries to pass some levels.