Review: htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary [Steam]

Release Date
Publisher / Developer
NIS America / Nippon Ichi Software
Puzzle Platformer

From the developers of the Disgaea series comes Nippon Ichi Software’s latest port to the PC, htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary. Though removed from the RPG setting, htoL#NIQ still keeps the developer’s style with its strategic gameplay.

Steam describes the series:

At the bottom of an old ruin, a young girl named Mion awakens with no memory of how she arrived at this dreadful place. Guided by two fireflies, Mion must solve puzzles, outwit monsters, and avoid traps to escape the darkness!

In htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary, you will guide Mion’s escape from her dark confines by controlling two fireflies—Lumen and Umbra. Direct Mion’s movements as Lumen, and destroy obstacles as the shadowy Umbra. Untold mysteries await as you guide Mion to the surface, overcoming traps and puzzles along the way. But be warned—the shadows are never far, and they’re always hungry…

The game is split into various chapters where the player controls fireflies to guide Mion. Lumen resides in light and is in charge of moving Mion through the stages. Umbra occupies the shadows and manipulates the environment to allow Mion an easier time traversing the area. With these two fireflies, intricate puzzles must be solved within these visually stunning stages. However, these puzzles might become very difficult later on, as action order, timing, and luck become more heavily involved, especially for the bosses.

Due to the difficulty of the game, checkpoints are quite frequent so that when Mion dies, the game usually restarts at a checkpoint seconds prior to a death. Trial and error is pretty much the bulk of the gameplay so frequent deaths shouldn’t be a surprise. Nonetheless, the number of stages are quite few, so it is a game that can be completed in a single night.

The story of htoL#NIQ is told through voiceless exposition, very fitting for this type of setting. However, players are only given very small pieces at a time, and the memories that must be found in almost every stage are quite challenging to obtain. Despite this, with enough experience, players will get used to experimenting and searching areas regularly.

The game is quite enticing during the first run, however, the constant puzzle-solving can be quite tedious at times. The tediousness is exacerbated by Moin’s excruciatingly slow walking pace, taking a long time just to move from one point to another. It is unfortunate that game speed cannot be adjusted. Though the replay value is not high, the game presents amazing auditory and visual sensations. Admittedly, if Nippon Ichi Software develops another game like htoL#NiQ, I would probably play it. However, it must be kept short like this one or else my impatience towards the tedious gameplay may get the better of me.