Steeped in the rich history of an ancient mystical world, Archaica is a puzzle game with a captivating backstory.
You play as a Light Bearer, tasked with the mission of saving your people when the Fiery Sign appears in the sky. You must walk the Path of Light, redirecting light to illuminate all the Lightwells for the sake of your civilisation’s salvation. You use mirrors to direct a beam of light through coloured crystals. Once all the crystals are lit, the Lightwell will become enabled and you can move onto the next level.
It’s simple enough to learn how to move and direct the mirrors. You can jump right into the game immediately after the tutorial and let the narrative unfold as you complete each puzzle.
Illuminating the Lightwell will let you move onto the next level, but there are other challenges you can take on if you want. You can collect glowing white gems called cells hidden around each level. If you get all of them, you unlock a hint which can help with the puzzle. There are also glowing patterns etched into rocks called cryptoglyphs. If you find them all, you unlock a scrap of information about the world’s history so the full story reveals itself as you progress through the game.
These extra challenges are effectively optional, but they add an extra dimension to Archaica that makes it feel like so much more than your average puzzle game.
The backstory isn’t just pretty padding, though; it feeds into every element of the game. It provides an explanation for why your world is in danger and why these mysterious light puzzles might be its salvation. The mystical, magical world of the game gives it a gorgeous aesthetic, complemented by calming yet eerie music. Archaica is very well constructed in that all the danger of a beautiful world on the brink of disaster exists harmoniously with such a simple puzzle concept.
As you might expect, the puzzles start off relatively simple and progress to more difficult and complicated problems to solve. There are various types of mirrors that divert light at different angles, so you have to think creatively to work out how to use them properly together. Some levels have multiple stages to solve before you progress to the next level, with the same lights and mirrors, but with platforms shifting as you unlock each section.
The evolving complexity of the puzzles makes Archaica a really engaging and challenging game. This, combined with the bewitching setting and the detailed history of the world, absorbs you into the magical story in a way that not a lot of puzzle games manage to achieve.