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Smart, simple, and soothing: You should be playing Linelight

What is it?

Solve puzzles and outwit enemies by moving a beam of light through two-dimensional mazes

Play it if you like…

Games like Braid or Edge Extended; mazes; pleasant things

  • Format: PS4/PC
  • Price: $9.99/£6.99
  • Release date: Out now

When I play Linelight, I feel at peace. Soothing piano tracks loop as I guide a tiny colored light down a winding path. I come across a barrier blocking my path. A few switches are located off of the main path - activating them simultaneously will destroy the barrier, but there's no way I can hit them both at the same time. A red light is marching back and forth on a separate track. I can guide them over with some deft maneuvering, but it's tricky. Getting hit isn't frustrating, though. I just start the puzzle over again, the calming music and minimalist, low-key vibe of Linelight ensuring that I enjoy every single minute of its clever puzzles.

And Linelight is very smart. It constantly builds on itself, introducing small ideas, twisting them, then adding more as you progress through its half-dozen worlds. First, you'll learn how to manipulate line sections, moving them in and out of place by passing through gate switches. Then, Linelight throws some trickier puzzles at you. Then, you realize that enemy lights can also activate switches for you, which you can use to move these sections into place. By the end of the first world, you're working alongside an adversary, crossing paths back and forth, helping the red light progress while it helps you do the same.

Later worlds take these concepts and expand on them even further. You'll find enemies that only move when you do, or only move when you hold down a button. You'll find little spirally bits that stick out of some lines, and when you move through them your light will grow or shrink in size. You'll find switches that create a copy of you and perform your last five seconds of input. And you'll have to eventually use all of these abilities in conjunction with one another to avoid enemies, snag keys, unlock doors, and grab gems.

But the thing I think I like most about Linelight is that it allows you to enjoy it on your own terms. There are puzzles that it forces you to complete, but a lot of the bonus objectives and secrets are totally up to you. Want to bang your head against this puzzle long enough to make the little red line grab the key for you and bring it out to where you're waiting? Go for it. Don't feel like it? Move on past it - that gem will be waiting for you when you're ready for it. And if you're really devoted, you'll seek out paths hidden along the way which unlock even more puzzles to solve and bonus areas to explore.

Linelight is unpretentious minimalism at its best. There's no story, no deeper message; just you, a bunch of lights, some relaxing music, and a handful of really smart brain teasers. Fire it up and forget about the world for a few minutes. You'll be glad you did.

You Should Be Playing celebrates innovative, unexpected games that belong on your radar, with a new game every Monday at 0900 PST / 1700 GMT. Follow @gamesradar on Twitter for updates.

David Roberts lives in Everett, WA with his wife and two kids. He once had to sell his full copy of EarthBound (complete with box and guide) to some dude in Austria for rent money. And no, he doesn't have an amiibo 'problem', thank you very much.