htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary, yes that is the real title, takes place in a mystifying world of darkness. A fairy, Lumen, is leading on Mion, a young amnesiac girl with antlers, through a world of ruin. There are no words spoken throughout. Instead, the story is told through subtle interactions with the environment along with context clues via flashbacks much along the same lines of Limbo, or Portal. It’s an interesting, but forgettable tale.
Coincidentally the game plays very similar to Limbo too. Players can choose to interact with the game via touch controls, or turn them off and use the buttons at their leisure. As for literal control, players will guide Mion along by using Lumen. There’s a reverse world where a shadow fairy, Umbra, can reach objects as well. The goal of each area is to make it through unscathed. Obstacles like gaps, spikes, and even monsters can end sessions quickly. Thankfully checkpoints begin at the start of each new puzzle making death deal less of an annoying blow. Still, later on, puzzles become a bit more complex and time consuming than one would want.
Between the vibrant art of the decrepit world to the retro pixel design of the flashbacks, htoL#NiQ is gorgeous. The small yet robust screen of the Vita really makes everything pop. The music sets a haunting tone, but it’s hardly noticeable in any memorable fashion other than setting a mood. It’s a short game, but that’s to be accepted out a puzzle game. There are secrets to unravel in every area for those wanting more, but overall it’s a light package.
htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary is a quaint little adventure one doesn’t see from NIS very often. The pull back on heavy texted, complicated RPGs is a nice relief. It may not last an overwhelming impression, but more than the game itself, htoL#NiQ is a symbol of NIS’ capabilities. Hopefully the next venture into something small like this will be better realized.
Score: 2/5 Stars
Special Notes: The publisher provided a review code of the game. This article was originally published on February 23, 2015 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.