One Upon Light

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
One Upon Light Game Poster Image
Challenging yet frustrating puzzler has confusing story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Story is too vague to contain any kind of message, hints at becoming cautionary tale about science meddling with nature, but never does.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hero is a young scientist who is resourceful but clueless. His goal is simply to get to a central lab, but he doesn't know why.

Ease of Play

Logic puzzles well-designed, interesting but intermixed with frustrating twitch sequences. Latter requires precise timing to overcome, and clumsy control scheme makes them a chore.


Hero awakes after some kind of explosion; tension-filled sequence shows him fleeing utter destruction of Aurora Labs facility. No real violence.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that One Upon Light is a challenging downloadable puzzle game requiring manual dexterity, patience, and strategic thought. Gameplay involves solving complex puzzles, but its slow pace could bore younger kids. Though there's no real violence, inappropriate language, or scares in the game; the vague story line could confuse a younger audience; and the stark, black-and-white graphics could prove unappealing to them.

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What's it about?

In ONE UPON LIGHT, something has gone terribly wrong at Aurora Labs. A young scientist (you) awakens in a hallway, unsure of how he was knocked unconscious; his instinct is to return to the building's central laboratory, where he's convinced the answers lie. The problem is, the hallways are dark and much of the machinery is inactive. Even worse, he discovers that light has become deadly to him. To get to the bottom of both the lab's destruction and his curious new light allergy, he must keep to the shadows on his way to the central lab by manipulating the objects around him.

Is it any good?

This is a good example of an excellent concept let down by execution. The idea of an accident in a light science lab is a good one and provides good opportunities for story and gameplay. The main character starts with an interesting problem -- prolonged exposure to light will kill him -- and his condition dictates all the gameplay. One Upon Light sets up an interesting mystery and leaves clues in the form of internal memos suggesting the sinister nature of that mystery. Restrained sound design (machinery, musical tones, footsteps) and minimal black-and-white graphics add to the intrigue. Unfortunately, not enough comes of that mystery, and things become more frustrating than fascinating due to imprecise controls and puzzles that require split-second timing. Thankfully, these annoying opportunities for repetitious death alternate with more logical, strategic puzzles that evolve over time in an interesting way. Still, the early exasperation factor could prevent players from ever experiencing that evolution, and players who do stick with the action could be disappointed by the game's vague and confusing ending.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about darkness. Why do you think people are afraid of the dark? Are you?

  • Discuss technology. Can you think of ways in which science and technology have made our lives better?

  • Think about new inventions. If you could invent anything at all, what would it be?

Game details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 4
  • Price: $11.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: SUTD Game Lab
  • Release date: October 13, 2015
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Topics: Science and Nature
  • ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Mild Language
  • Last updated: August 24, 2016

Our editors recommend

For kids who love solving puzzles

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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