Imagine being a little girl with no memory of who you are and you have no idea where you are at. That is the premise behind htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary. A young girl with amnesia named Mion awakens at the bottom of an old ruin. She is all alone and her only companions are two fireflies. One named Lumen and the other Umbra. It is your job to use the fireflies to help her escape to see the outside world. As she continues on her journey she recovers her memories little by little. It is a world full of shadow monsters, machines, and mysteries.
htoL#NiQ:The Firefly Diary was released for the PlayStation Vita and PC. It is a single player game that was developed by Nippon Ichi Software. Everything about this game from the title htoL#NiQ, to the fireflies are very unique. That is what initially drew me to this game to begin with. It is very different from the type of games I have been playing lately. In my experience the games that are different are usually the best ones. As I stated before Mion is a young girl with amnesia. She is the main character of the game and the only one besides the fireflies. Everything about this game is very unusual. There isn’t even any spoken dialogue or text to read. Mion doesn’t speak at all. Unusual isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.
In order to know what the heck is going on you pretty much have to put the pieces together and figure it out yourself. There are some flashbacks and clues from the background that help you figure out the plot. Part of the fun in htoL#NiQ was not being entirely sure what the heck is going on. It just made me want to keep playing to find out more. It added a mystery element to the game. Mion’s only companions are two small fireflies. At first in the game you only have one firefly which is Lumen. You can use Lumen to move boxes, flip switches, and more. The only way Mion will even move is if you move Lumen to where you want her to go. She will follow Lumen anywhere and follow Lumen’s command. Then as you progress in the game Umbra appears.
You can only use Umbra in the shadow world. In the PC version you have to use the right-click button on your mouse to enter the shadows and use Umbra. Mion doesn’t follow Umbra in the same way as Lumen. Umbra can’t move or operate in the light and can only move freely in the shadows. Umbra can move in any shadows including ones created by Lumen. If there is something to far out of Mion’s reach you can use Umbra to interact with it. I found myself using Umbra way more than Lumen because Umbra was way more useful. The only way Lumen is useful is if you are in close proximity to the object. Whereas with Umbra as long as there is a shadow distance doesn’t really matter. If there is a shadow monster you can use the shadows of other objects to attack it using Umbra. I even found myself using Umbra to look ahead and seeing what potential pitfalls I could avoid.
What I did love about Lumen is that you could move it anywhere you wanted. Not so much with Umbra. Like I said Umbra can only move in the shadows literally. If you enter the other shadow dimension and if there aren’t many shadows cast Umbra can’t move around much. When using Umbra everything is about timing as well. Since everything in the game is done through the fireflies I would recommend playing this game on a touchscreen device. I played this game on my PC using a mouse and at times it was definitely frustrating. Another frustrating thing was that Mion doesn’t run at all. She takes a leisurely pace through every part. When you are trying to dodge shadow beasts the last thing you want a character to do is walk.
Since the game has no text or any kind of dialogue the environments do all the talking. The graphics throughout the game make you feel like you are watching everything though a old film projector that you found in your grandparents attic. The post apocalyptic/world war, gloomy vibe works for htoL#NiQ. I also loved that the game had some dimension and almost felt 3-D at times. Mion and the fireflies’ character design works well to break up the gloomy feel you get when playing. The branches growing from Mion’s head imply that some kind of radioactive accident had to have happened.
But you have to keep playing in order to find out what did actually happen. I won’t lie this game can be very challenging. It requires precision and lots of patience. It is very easy to die over and over again. The game automatically saves when you reach a certain point. The great thing is that you don’t have to repeat entire scenes or parts. The level of difficulty for me wasn’t so bad to the point where I got too frustrated to play. The level of difficulty reminded me of The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes. At least in htoL#NiQ I didn’t have to repeat entire dungeons.
htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary worked for me. I loved the creepy, weird, projector style graphics, and overall mood of the game. I didn’t find it anymore challenging than other adventure type games I have played. I even enjoyed the lack of dialogue and that they used the backgrounds to tell the story. Collecting Mion’s memories throughout the game just made me want to keep playing until the end. This game might not be for everyone though. If you are expecting a lighthearted, easy, casual game then this isn’t for you. But if you are like me and enjoy a challenge, like adventure, and like games that are unusual then htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary is right up your alley.
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