Because I always crave yet more small plastic figurines and the elimination of even more of my desk space, I was more than happy to take on the challenge of reviewing a brave little entry into toys-to-life, one that’s come at a pivotal point for the genre itself. I’ve been burnt before, and the indignation of a grown man unsatisfied by children’s toys is not an easy thing for anybody, so Lightseekers had a fair few hurdles to jump from the very beginning. The first being a very large hole with a sign reading “The potential of Disney Infinity”.
But Lightseekers succeeds in a lot of ways because it doesn’t try to emulate its predecessors, happy to forge along its own path – maybe after learning a few lessons from their failures. Instead of drawing from established properties like Infinity and, to a lesser extent, Skylanders did in bits and pieces with the mutilated Spyro franchise, it has lore of its own. In place of masses of low-quality plastic figurines that take up way too much room – and inevitably will get trodden on if there’s a child in the house – there are just a couple of much higher quality figures. Make no mistake, these are proper toys, with multiple points of articulation and illumination, voice lines and swappable accessories that change what’s equipped in game.
They’re weighty, well painted, and stand on their own as action figures thanks to a chargeable backpack that allows a Bluetooth connection with your mobile device of choice. I tested the connectivity with my Samsung S8 and it worked effortlessly multiple times. It removes a lot of the clutter and stress – there might not be 150-odd characters but the ones you have are in a different league entirely, much more well-rounded both in the real world and in the game. Considering how established the “portal” is as a concept in toys-to-life, its removal makes play a lot simpler, but could obviously only work as well as it does with a smaller amount of heroes to swap between.
The game itself is straightforward top-down questing but it looks great, and the figures light up, vibrate and talk along with their sprite counterparts. I sat down with the mandatory child in my house and set it up on his tablet and he was absolutely taken with it. Hell, even as an adult, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the amount of detail these toys have in comparison to their competitors. They even beat it out at the price point – a starter pack with a figure, the Fusion Core accessory required to connect the figures to your mobile device, a weapon and a bunch of cards (which can be used for in-game rewards and as part of the standalone Lightseekers trading card game) runs below the £30 mark at Toys R’ Us. Which apparently still exists. You can pick up toys by themselves and while they don’t tap into the collectible market they easily stand by themselves without the accompanying app.
It’d be great to see Lightseekers take off. The game is simple but has a ton of content. It’s cheerful, full of colour, and easy to pick up and put down. The toys are the real stars of the show, though – because they’re actual toys. It’s much better to have a handful of well realised characters with distinctive abilities and accessories than a legion of rehashed skillsets in varying costumes. It won’t appeal to everyone, but if, like me, your inner child runs rampant over all your adult hopes and financial responsibilities, you’ll get a kick out of the amount of attention that has been brought to bear on making this game a simple, satisfying experience all round.
As far as its actual target audience goes, the game ticks all the right boxes. Cheap, well-made, and a constantly evolving game world that focuses on quick bursts of fun. Younger kids will delight in the functionality of the figures, older ones will enjoy seeing the way the game interacts with the toy – and bitter old game reviewers might even crack a smile at some goofy, clean cut humour wrapped around a technically solid game.
- Great toys, and a game that’s not going to redefine the wheel but does what it does very well.
- Affordable – doesn’t feed into the horrible collector madness that fills the homes of parents with plastic tat.
- No cables and massive portal accessories needed – just connect by Bluetooth and play.
- The simple touch might not be for everyone – but Lightseekers does what it sets out to do with joy and ease.