When I began playing Glare, my initial impression was of a competent and polished platformer that, while pleasant, was unremarkable. However, the more I played, the more my expectations were defied—not suddenly, all at once, but gradually as the game continued to add new moves to my repertoire and gently ramped up the complexity of the challenges to which I needed to apply them. In the end, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this game.
The action here is kinetic as you fly down ziplines and hurl yourself between floating launchers while avoiding brambles, spikes, and lava. You regularly stop to fight off enemies, but later in the game you often have to deal with them on the move or while in a precarious position, like in the middle of a delicate wall cling maneuver. You come to navigate obstacles while moving with great speed, intuiting what you need to do next on the fly. It feels good.
The stages do not simply progress from side to side but lead you in all directions through intricately crafted, occasionally clever level design, facilitated by a camera that pans and angles around the pretty 2.5D environment with careful scripting. Although your path sometimes loops back across itself pleasingly after you gain a new ability, this is a thoroughly linear game, not a Metroid descendant.
Every time I expected Glare to do something lazy, it surprised me and did something fun instead. After passing a few rock barriers that were colored differently from the ones that I could break with my bomb attack, I was prepared to find a simple upgrade to that move; instead, an effect was added to my slide, which meant that I had to find the right way to use terrain if I wanted to smash through those rocks. Then I found situations in which I was required to chain my slide to break multiple barriers, and soon I was burning through sloped corridors filled with ineffectual enemies that were there just so that I could enjoy tearing through them with this screw attack analogue. Instead of just giving me the key to this lock, the game added a wrinkle that affected everything.
That's what it's like. It does the fun thing. Glare is not some amazing, must-play game, but it also never meant to be; it just wants to be a good platformer. And it really is.
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