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Can you act fast and be cautious? ArkLight pulls at two sides of your instincts: You're flying a glowing, crystalline spaceship that shoots searing bolts of energy, yet you have to conserve power and ration your shots, or you'll drain the engine and crash. Ever-so-flammable enemies whiz in front of you, but you're also charged with picking through and cleaning up the cryptically arranged blocks that litter your path. And while your shots can zip across the screen and bounce down the corridors, you'll need to keep pulling them back to recharge yourself—which makes you look like a floating Van de Graaff generator, as electricity arcs all around you. It's half twitching and half tactics, and for the most part, the two sides of the game work well together.

ArkLight's only real shortcoming lies in the level design: The maps don't get tricky until you're almost halfway through, and the thoughtful challenges—where you grapple with block-based puzzles on your way through each maze—seem clunky, especially at the end of each level, where you have to stop and slug through a roomful of blocks before you can fly away.

Beyond the game: The bright graphics, frothy music, and elegant motion are even more appealing than the actual gameplay.


Worth playing for: The three difficulty levels nicely match the different playing styles: Casual gamers can crash through on "Easy," while the harder settings demand more tactical thinking.

Frustration sets in when: You're frequently warned to watch out for "dead ends," yet the levels are so simple and blocky that they never feel like mazes—getting stuck just seems like a hassle.

Final judgment: A slick indie game that'll appeal to players who can balance their brains with their trigger fingers.

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