Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android
Genre: Visual Novel
Reviewed by: Soniram
First impressions are important. They also don't mean a goddamn thing.
IT'S A DEEP, SLOW BURN THAT CAN PULL ON THE HEARTSTRINGS
What do you really look at when you are choosing an adult visual novel to experience? The majority of people will look at how the game is presented. This mainly means screenshots of the visuals of the game including the characters, settings, and overall artistic expression of the game developers. If you go to the Light of My Life game page on one of the website, you are going to see a notice warning people about commenting negatively on how Naughty Road has designed these characters. I'm sure there's been more than a few people that looked at the two main love interests in this game and said, "I'll pass."
Goddamn, they have missed a hell of a game.
The story of Light of My Life isn't uncommon in adult visual novels. The player takes the role of a single father of two daughters and how their lives become inexorably drawn closer together through the entire length of the experience.
What is unique about the tapestry Naughty Road has woven for us is how everything evolves from the beginning. It's a deep, slow burn that can pull at the heartstrings and leave a story-loving visual novel enthusiast like me feeling good, or bad, for the entire day. If you want to write your own visual novel and really want to make it shine, Light of My Life is one of those you absolutely, positively, should experience... and study.
But before I start gushing too much about the story, let's get into the other areas here.
The gameplay is simplistic, without feeling simplistic. There are choices, and they do have a limited effect on the story. There are different attributes for each daughter, hate and anxiety, and they share a love attribute, all of which are somewhat managed by choices the player makes. There are certain points in the story where these attributes get boosts without a way to stop them, especially in the hate and anxiety categories. This is rather ingenious on Naughty Road's part. People who experience a tragedy, as this family has, frequently run into these times where emotions go all crazy, and there's not a damned thing you can do about it. That's life. That's just a small part of the depth and truth Naughty Road has brought to bat.
THIS ONE FEELS, AND IT FEELS REAL
A few different side paths branch off of the main one, giving the player a little bit of flavor and an extra side of onion rings. There are the women at the main character's work which can be an interesting distraction, adding a little bit of sex to alleviate the pangs of slow-burn felt in the main storyline. What happens in these side paths changes nothing on the main path, so you can mingle with the women at the office without any forced guilt. Hooray for guilt-free, no-strings-attached sex with repressed (and kinky) women at work.
The main story itself is a masterpiece of storytelling, mixing drama with humor and angst with catharsis. Very few games have created the believability the main characters in Light of My Life exude. Naughty Road uses the Biblical tale of Lot and his daughters after fleeing Sodom and shapes it like a sculptor, taking parts of it and reimagining it in a modern setting where the tragedy of the world being destroyed is replaced by the loss of the main character's wife and mother to the two daughters.
Someone recently said to me (paraphrased), "It's a game, dummy. I play it to jerk off, not feel." This one feels, and it feels real. A lot of people think adult visual novels and games aren't supposed to be "real". They're not supposed to be "believable". They are entertainment. Do we really think it's realistic to have a daughter, the younger no less, manipulate and wriggle her way into an intimate relationship with her father, and her older sister? What about the older sister struggling with her own daddy-complex she's got buried deep down, who allows herself to fall under the sway of the younger daughter to explore sexuality with both of them?
All of this is there, and more. Light of My Life makes you fall in love with these characters, and it does so with seemingly nothing more than the snap of Naughty Road's fingers. There's no way creating this experience is easy, but he certainly makes it seem effortless and easy for the player to get wrapped up in it. The game is still in production, and new chapters come out at a somewhat tepid pace, but when they do... each one is like getting hit with a fucking Mack truck. A Mack truck that delivers.
I haven't even gotten to the other parts of the game yet, either. The music is good -- atmospheric and fits the whole narrative like a warm pair of gloves on a cold night. Visual storytelling is compelling and different, using expressive sprites, camera movements, zooms, pans, and sound effects in the right combinations. The timing is right on -- which, I can tell you, takes an absolute TON of experimentation, tweaking, and testing. There isn't any true animation, as most would call it, but the blurred movement between frames and creative use of the visual effects work make it feel animated, and it just... fits. Replacing Naughty Road's work with true animation would honestly be a detriment to the game.
YOU'RE MISSING A FINELY CRAFTED EXPERIENCE
We're near to the point of wrapping this up, and we haven't even gotten to the sex yet! That's how impressive this game is on every level. The incest is heavy in this one, both implied and real. That's to be expected, but when I first started playing, I didn't expect the dripping arousal between the sisters to be so intense. You get the chance of some relief with the office women, engaging in optional implied incest, while the slow-burn with the daughters marches forward. However, the quickies at the office don't compare to the building crescendo that's happening at home.
The sex scenes themselves are very well written, both aesthetically and verbally. Being able to write good dialogue in intimate scenes isn't a common ability, but Naughty Road isn't a common game developer. "This is Mr. Naughty Road talking, and I know what I'm talking about."
Usually, this is the part where I put in something that could be improved or an aspect of the game lacking in one way or another. It's hard coming up with something negative to say. It's hard coming up with something even neutral to say. I mean, if I had to... really, really had to... I could say the younger daughter seems to accept intimacy with both her father and sister rather easily. Even then, the journey she takes from the beginning of the story and watching how her mind follows the paths her experiences and exposure enforces the fact this is natural for her, and eventually, natural for all three of them.
So for all of those that looked at the preview pictures and thought the girls were not up to their standards, you're missing something big. You're missing something amazing. You're missing a finely crafted experience. If you skipped over this game, and you like superbly written, "realistic" incest stories with characters you can truly fall in love with, go back and try this. Seriously.
You might notice that I call playing Light of My Life as an "experience" throughout this review, and that's because it is. I don't play Light of My Life. I experience it... and I can't wait to experience it more and see where Naughty Road takes us.
[STORY]: Well written, well crafted. It just fits, all the way around. 20/22.
[VISUALS]: Some will be put off, but it all ties together at a high level. 17/22.
[GAMEPLAY]: Easy to play for the most part, and there's nothing hidden. 17/22.
[ADULT CONTENT]: Slow burn that's starting to pay off big dividends. Plus extras. 18/22.
[SONIRAM LIKEY?]: I didn't say "top-three" without meaning it. 11/12.
[VERDICT]: This one deserves to be experienced.