By Anthony “LibrariaNPC” DeMinico, 03 February 2021
Zine-sized games are something I find to be a hit or a miss. On the upside, they are short, easy to carry, and often simple to learn. On the downside, I find many to be severely lacking or just a little too niche for me. There’s a growing collection of them on my shelf I had high hopes for (and was tempted to review!), but they were disappointing to the point I couldn’t say more than “That was a waste.”
Yet every so often, I’ll run into an exception to the rule that just draws me in.
LIGHT is a small, lightweight, and modular RPG, heavily inspired by the video game Destiny and its sequel (and related expansions). In it, you play a nigh-immortal agent actively exploring and saving the system from various threats.
==What You Get==
LIGHT is a small game, spanning 16 pages with some full-page art, a simple d6 mechanic with three stats, and three “modules” to add a city, armory, and collection of foes.
The first “season,” SPARK, has just begun, adding the KINDLE module to the list. This adds another six pages of player options to the list.
The best perk of LIGHT is right there within what it is: it is small, making it easy to read and carry about, simple, making it easy to pick up quickly with a low cost of entry (d6 based), and modular, so you can add what you want as you go. This means that the materials introduced in the book after the 4-page core rule section, such as the weapon setup in the VULCAN section, can be thrown out without directly impacting the game.
It may not sound like much, but a game that uses some of the narrative elements to take weight off the GM (like don’t roll for NPC attacks), a forgiving mechanic (re-rolls with respawn rules), and a simple-yet effective overall system just…works. I’m also always a fan of the “Approach” system like what we saw in Fate Accelerated and its branded offshoots, and seeing LIGHT use this just makes it more appealing and approachable.
As a personal aside, the modular nature catches my eye. With it being a simple set of rules with small mechanical bits to bolt on that are not directly constrained to this story, I’ve already considered similar franchises that I’d love to see a game for that might be able to fit a similar bill with just a few minor renames and tweaks.
As someone who lives for lore, reading LIGHT and the first part of SPARK felt like a major tease. There are the way things are but no reasons for it, which simultaneously makes me want to scream in frustration or go and sink countless hours into Destiny so I know what I’ve missed. (Note: This lead me to playing Destiny 2 last weekend, which hasn’t helped as the story quests aren’t properly ordered in the free version…)
Beyond that, there’s not a long necessarily wrong with LIGHT; anything that is “wrong” either comes to personal preference or hinges on the design. Specifically, the size is both great for mobile GMs with no time but an annoyance for those who need more help with materials, and because of it’s size, it gets a bit vague with rules; “summon the swarm” is listed as an ability but zero explanation is offered.
There are a couple of times I wondered it there was a typo or if something was done on purpose, but without being in the author’s head, I can’t say.
I will say that some may not be fond of the price ($5 for the PDF, $10 for print, and SPARK‘s season pass is $10 for the PDFs), but knowing what a good artist can charge and should be paid, the price makes sense with how much full-page, full-color art is within LIGHT.
While the source material and this review is short, LIGHT deserves to walk away with a solid four buns.
If you’re looking for a short game to pick up and try out, like modular games to build upon, or just really love Destiny, then LIGHT is well worth the price of admission. Nice art, simple mechanic, and plenty to build upon, it’s got what you need.
If you like games with more setting to work with, don’t like the mission-based approach offered here, or just couldn’t get into Destiny, give LIGHT a pass.
SPARK, on the other hand, is still too new to really gauge if it’s worth the price, as new character options just aren’t worth it to me personally. If you want to take the gamble as I did, go pick it up. The first part introduces the elemental-based subclasses, and hopefully we’ll see more interesting elements moving forward.
LIGHT and it’s first Season Pass, SPARK, are created by Spencer Campbell of Gila RPGs. As of this writing, you can get the PDF of LIGHT via itch.io for $5, a print copy via gilarpgs.com for $10, and pre-order the entire Season Pass of SPARK for $10.
Anthony, better known as LibrariaNPC, wears many hats: librarian, gamemaster, playtester, NPC, game designer, and our Editor-In-Chief. You can support his work on Patreon, his tip jar, via Ko-Fi, or by buying his games.