Shiny the Firefly tasks you with leading a myriad of lost babies safely to each level exit.  Along the way you’ll need to solve some puzzles for successful navigation, as well as battle (and hide!) from enemies.  The game grabbed me quickly thanks to its beautiful environments, but did it have the gameplay to back it up?

Shiny the Firefly is a gorgeous game! The bright and vivid environments are a real pleasure to behold.  Fun animations help bring everything to life – I love how bees will shake their fists in anger if they lose sight of you.  Some good lighting is also showcased.  While not every level takes advantage of it, the darker ones impress when Shiny glimmers, casting warm glows and shadows.  It looks great in HD!  The accompanying music has a Disney like quality about it.  It’s rather good but, with the exception of boss encounters, the same tune plays throughout the game.  That’s an unfortunate musical misstep, although the occasionally silent level lessens the repetition.

Shiny the Firefly - bossSpeaking of boss encounters, these baddies are large.  I didn’t find them nearly as challenging as many of the levels however, which could be refreshing or a letdown depending on your perspective.  Perhaps difficulty settings would’ve allowed for some more boss appropriate challenge?  Considering that they’re few in number further challenge wouldn’t have been bad, but these bosses are memorable all the same.

Control is far from poor, but it does reflect the game’s mobile roots.  One example is the camera.  Levels are designed in such a way that it’s advisable to pan and see what’s ahead or around a corner.  This is done via the touch screen however, and not the right stick which is more intuitive.  It also leads to character movement (and at times death) for no apparent reason.  Overall control is functional, but not brilliant, for this rather slow-paced game.  And it can get even slower …

Shiny the Firefly - stealthOne level (with no end of respawning spiders) had so much slowdown it bordered on unplayable.  I’m talking stutter the likes of which you probably haven’t seen since the NES days!  It’s like the game was pausing every 3 or 4 seconds – on top of Shiny’s own pauses after darting.  If a game struggles so, it needs to make sure the level design is such where it doesn’t bring said struggles to the fore!

The game uses the star system to encourage replay.  In terms of actual gameplay though, incentive may lack.  Even though this is a short title, monotony can still set in.  The simple puzzles and recurring escort missions lack diversity.  The stealth gameplay was fun at first, but the novelty soon wore off.  Being able to stay hidden even when lit up eliminates much of the tension, and reflects poorly on the enemy AI (even if the game advertises to the contrary).  Enemies aren’t particularly smart, although their respawining nature and one hit kills from some (for better or worse) does provide difficulty.  Meanwhile the “legion of enemies” advertised is just a small handful – variety is scarce!

Shiny the Firefly - visualsWhile I adore the visuals that Shiny the Firefly showcases, this is a game that might be more enjoyable to watch than it is to play.  Even the two player mode (though fun) is limited to mere touch screen functions with no second playable character.  I hope a sequel can inject both the needed variety, and improvements and polish in other areas where this game falls short.  Meanwhile do put this game on your wish list and wait for a sale to bring the price closer to the mobile versions, and hope for a patch to make improvements.

Shiny the Firefly title