Gleamlight Launch Screen

Moving on from The Elder Scrolls: Blades, we find ourselves at the ninth game in our list, Gleamlight for the Nintendo Switch. Gleamlight is a game that had difficulty climbing out from the shadow of its poor first impression. When it was first shown off, there were a lot of comparisons to Hollow Knight, a near-universally praised game. The art style and gameplay were clearly derivative. Gleamlight averaged a score of 42 by reviewers on Metacritic. Let’s see why it’s so bad!

Gleamlight Launch Trailer

Now I’m not saying Gleamlight is anywhere near as good as Hollow Knight. I’m just saying it shouldn’t be rated poorly because of the comparison. Hollow Knight itself borrowed heavily from games that came before it, like Metroid and Castlevania. It reminds me of how there was all this pent-up hate for Genshin Impact before it came out because some visuals and gameplay looked similar to Breath of the Wild. But then the game was released, and people loved it.

I will say, Gleamlight definitely feels like an unfinished game after playing it for a couple of hours. I actually liked the art style and how it was more colorful than Hollow Knight, and some of the platforming was solid. Other than that, though, it is very light on story, and I never understood what was going on. There is not much of a menu system. And something essential in these Metroidvania-style games—a map—seems to have been omitted entirely. There also isn’t much variation in the environments. It’s all just this broken-up stained-glass-looking world.

I played through the first couple of bosses, and then the game forces you to backtrack now that you have new moves and abilities. There was no map, though, so I never really knew the correct direction to head in. This was incredibly frustrating if I stopped playing the game for a bit and returned to it. Since every room looked the same, I never knew which way I needed to go or if I was making progress towards my goal.

So to wrap up, should you play Gleamlight? In this instance, I would say “no,” even if you are a fan of Metroidvanias. There just isn’t enough here to really enjoy and make it worthwhile to play. I know I definitely won’t be finishing it. So while I don’t think it’s fair to score it poorly because of its comparison to another game, I do think it mostly deserves this low score because it doesn’t stand up on its own.

We’re working our way through the list—very slowly. So check back for next time when I’ve played Street Power Soccer on PlayStation 4.