I never thought I would be saying this, but I think Compulsion Games just put down a marker for DLC of the Year with Lightbearer.
They Came From Below was a decent, well put together DLC and gave us a different insight into the world of We Happy Few.
But Lightbearer amps up the tempo and rather than focus on the world, really doubles down on the people and the impact of Joy has on them.
How to Play
You can access the episode from the Main Menu by selecting DLC. You don’t need to have progressed in the base game to play.
As Norbert Pickles … sorry, Nick Lightbearer … you begin the DLC in a perplexed, drug induced state, wondering what happened the night before.
Sounds like standard fare for the life of this rock and roll legend, except this time he’s covered in blood and being visited by a talking rat. Even for Nick, that’s pretty out of the ordinary.
With the amount of death all around him, Nick wonders whether his blackout led him to go on a rampage he can’t even remember. Which really wouldn’t be good for anyone, least of all his adoring fanbase.
You have to help the Lightbearer learn the truth, retracing his steps while avoiding legions of fans desperate to get close to their idol and have a ‘shag’.
How do you do that, you may ask? By using his trusted guitar, that’s how. Which, in fact, is both used for puzzle solving and for fighting back your adoring / sometimes ravenous admirers.
Nick can strum the guitar to search for clues and points of interest. Animated statues will often point the way as Nick stumbles around in euphoria made for his eyes only. Trip is another word for it. Seriously, there’s one section in here that made me pretty giddy, a similar feeling I get in VR. Never had anything like it.
He can also ‘fire’ chords at his, um, less appreciative supporters to ‘blow their minds’ with his music-playing genius. Ugh..
Further still, our ‘hero’ throws records as projectiles and can actually play a lullaby that gets others to do his bidding for him. It’s all pretty wacky but fits the DLC’s wild sense of humour like a glove.
Lightbearer feels like the long-lost love child of classic FPS No One Lives Forever, blended with a splash of Austin Powers, and just a hint of a Christmas Carol.
That last one won’t make much sense until the end but trust me, I got strong Scrooge pangs towards the end. It was kind of cool, actually.
That might be surprising to some as this all seems like a rather silly narrative, with constant quips and jokes every other line, but the underlying story is carried very well.
The pace never tires either, there’s always something refreshing and quite different about Lightbearer, between the change in location, characters you meet, events that happen, and mechanics introduced.
In fact, the DLC feels like it goes by too fast. It’s barely two hours total and gone in a moment’s breath. Sadly, it’s also pretty very linear, which is a little to the DLC’s detriment.
There’s also a few random glitches like ragdoll hair physics, and characters getting stuck or disappearing without a trace. None are game-breaking but become more noticeable as you play and cheapen the content’s quality just a little bit.
That said, these are the best two hours I’ve plugged into a DLC this year. It’s experimental, entertaining and it feels like a throwback to when content was unafraid to try new things with an established formula.
It’s a total spinoff story, no real bearing on the base game, but it’s such a fun, memorable trip that it feels like it could be the start of something bigger.
As it stands, though, Lightbearer is my DLC of the year. Compulsion have proven multiple things with Lightbearer – they can make you laugh, they can take you on a journey, they can really bend and twist your sensibilities, and help you come out the other side feeling satisfied. Wonderful stuff.
+ Laugh out loud funny
+ Smart new mechanical tweaks to combat
+ Fun and engrossing story
– Quite short and very linear
– Occassional glitching
We Happy Few – Lightbearer Review
8 out of 10
Tested on PC
Code kindly received from Gearbox