Lightseekers: Worth your money?

 

Toys provided by PR

The whole toys-to-life thing has always been, if nothing else, an interesting idea. Toys you hold in your hand that feed in to a videogame? Neat. The king in this regard, if you discount Amiibo, seems to be Skylanders; particularly as both Disney Infinity and (more surprisingly) Lego Dimensions have been officially discontinued. That’s not to say that the war is over. Ubisoft are trying their luck with Starlink in 2018, and this year’s entry that’s still forging ahead is Lightseekers: Awakening from PlayFusion.

Lightseekers does things a little differently. It’s little cheaper than the most successful alternatives (I’ll move on to the issue of pricing later), but there are two very important ways it distinguishes itself from the competition. Firstly, in what initially seems to be a very smart move, this is not a console game. Lightseekers is a mobile app, compatible with millions of phones and tablets across the world. The second way it distinguishes itself? The app is free. You can download, and start playing, Lightseekers without paying a penny.

An important thing to note – especially if you’re giving consideration to purchasing the toys – is that Lightseekers is reasonably demanding, technically. It can be downloaded to most devices, but older models will only be given access to the minigames, and not the main “Adventure game”. I could give you the specs, but the best thing to do is to download it to your electronic doodad of choice and see how well – or, indeed, if – the main Lightseekers adventure runs on it.

Load up the app and, if you’re playing the adventure without a figure, you get to choose from one of two races (the fiery dinosaur-like Tyrax, or marine creature types Mari). Then, off you go to save this strange fantasy world.

It’s clear that an enormous amount of time and effort has gone into this. There’s no voiced dialogue within the game, but plenty of subtitles and context for where you’re going and what you’re doing. The aim is to have this as a fully-fledged action RPG, but on mobile. This means items to use and equip, abilities with brief cooldown periods, and a bit of menu-diving if you’re to get the most out of it. I say ‘you’ but, as you’ve probably guessed from the toy link, it’s more aimed at school-age gamers. It’s not patronising in any way, which is great; but the younger the player, the less likely they are to be prepared to put time into things like inventory management. Fortunately, ignoring the more in-depth side of things doesn’t hamper progression.

In fact, it’s suitably user friendly. No stupid on-screen d-pad. Tell your character where to go by touching the screen, tap enemies to attack them, tap items to pick them up. Nice and simple. Best of all, you can tap an icon to automatically have your character make their way to the next objective. This is a godsend; partly because without it, navigating the world only by the slightly misleading arrow indicator is awkward. Objectives only really ever amount to ‘go kill these things and/or go collect this other thing’, but you needn’t worry about spending ages wondering what you’re supposed to do or where you’re supposed to go.

This is Kora, the Mari figure. The weapon in her right hand is part of the starter pack, the weapon in her left hand (and flight pack, just visible as wings) sold separately.

So, yes, you can absolutely enjoy Lightseekers without spending any money at all. Buy a ‘smart figure’, however, and you can have it appear in-game. In order to link a figure, you’ll need to enable bluetooth and, for some reason, location services on your device. Vitally, you will also need a ‘Fusion Core’ (which I’ll get on to shortly). Linking the figure is nice and easy; follow the on-screen prompts at the title screen, and it’ll be linked within seconds. Your character, which will match the figure, will get a stat bonus for being linked with a toy (a bonus you keep for all subsequent playthroughs). While linked, the figure will also light up in different colours and even occasionally speak according to what’s going on. It might mention something about your current location, or warn you that they need healing. Okay, not actually speak Chucky-style because that would just be damn freaky, but you know what I mean.

Attach an accessory to your figure while playing, and that accessory will appear in the game, too. The differences aren’t merely cosmetic. Give the toy a shield, the game character will have a shield to defend themselves. Give the toy a weapon – or two (it can hold two items at once) – and the game character gets the same weapon/s, making your life in the game a bit easier. Plug a Flight Pack into the Fusion Core in the figure’s back, and the game character gets a Flight Pack… and you can now use the figure as a motion controller to move the on-screen character around. It’s a neat idea, and fun for a gimmick for a while. In all honesty though, the standard touchscreen movement is more reliable and user-friendly.

The toys are made by Tomy, and they are of absolutely superb quality. Sturdy, colourful, brilliantly designed, and (for the figures) poseable. They remind me of the toys I used to play with as a kid, and that is very much a good thing. Most definitely something children can play with in and of themselves although this does, of course, presume that they’ll invest in the characters. That, I think, is the biggest question hanging over Lightseekers. How will kids become interested in the toys in the first place? They look (and are) great, but they’re not attached to any immediately recognisable franchise. The toy and the game is a chicken and egg situation; especially as the game really doesn’t do anything to build up a backstory for any individual character.

Cards, available separately in packs or special editions with toys, form a separate trading card game. They can also be scanned to the app for bonuses.

Now, pricing, and what you get for your money. Prices have become slightly more palatable since the toys were first released, and there’s also a wider selection of figures available to buy. Make sure you know what is needed, and what you’re buying. You can get one of the figures for about thirty quid. However, this doesn’t include a Fusion Core, which you need to link to the game.

This is where things get a little confusing.

A standalone Fusion Core sells for about £50. For the same price, however, you can get a Starter Pack. This includes either a Mari or Tyrax figure, some cards (part of a wider and carefully-crafted trading card game, which can also be scanned for in-game bonuses), one weapon… and a Fusion Core. So if you or your child is going to connect to the game, regardless of what their first-choice figure is, you might as well buy one of these starter packs. A Fusion Core can be inserted into any figure and, as a bonus, any weapon/accessory can be used with any figure, too.

The accessories – weapons, flight pack – can usually be had for a penny shy of £15 each. As you can tell, Lightseekers is more of an investment than a casual purchase. To link a figure with the game, you need to spend a minimum of £50 (and that’s presuming you’re happy with one of the two figures available in a starter pack). Add one accessory, and it jumps to £65. Two accessories – extra weapon and a shield, extra weapon and a flight pack -and you’re looking at £80 for one toy.

It’s not cheap, but if the app runs smoothly on your device, and if your child really wants one of these for Christmas, and if you can afford it – then you won’t be disappointed. The toys really are absolutely top quality, and the developers seem committed to fixing bugs and adding extra content (head to the forums, and you’ll find that they’re very good at quickly responding to the community). As previously mentioned, the game itself is free. At the very least, you have nothing to lose by downloading it to have a look.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He’s the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you’ll find something he’s written in there.

Luke doesn’t have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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