Review: htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary (PlayStation Vita)

htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation Vita 1,403 view 4 likes 5 comments
Reviewed by Tom Bond, posted Feb 23, 2015
Feb 23, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): February 24, 2015
  • Release Date (EU): March 4, 2015
  • Release Date (JP): June 19, 2014
  • Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
  • Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
  • Genres: Puzzle, Platformer
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
htoL#NiQ: The FireFly Diary is a new puzzle platformer game released by Nippon Ichi Software, and is unique in the sense that the game uses all touchscreen and rear touchpad controls.
Tom Bond

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A game that fully uses the rear touchpad?? No way!

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Yes way, htoL#NiQ does indeed use touch controls on both the front touchscreen and the rear touchpad, something few Vita games fully take advantage of. The gameplay of htoL#NiQ is a unique combination of puzzle platforming, using two fairies, one that's comprised of light and the other made up of shadows, to control the main character, Mion. Using your two fairies, you go through various puzzles in the world in order to collect memories for Mion. These little flashback periods are, luckily, the saving grace of htoL#NiQ. Without spoiling too much, I will only say that sticking with the game and dealing with it's flaky controls will give you an immense feeling of satisfaction at the ending.

Speaking of flaky controls...

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Wow. The touchscreen and rear touch pad controls are overwhelmingly slow, and in general, quite imprecise to the point that you'll rage quit many times. Mion as a character is mind-numbingly slow, moving at such a snail pace that some obstacles and traps such as falling boxes or hydraulic presses will simply kill you outright if you don't have absolute perfect timing. If you pick up this game, prepare to memorize most of the levels and spend an outrageous amount of time on simple puzzles that will kill you because Mion took too long on a ladder, or because Mion couldn't outrun an equally slow monster. In the western release of the game, Nippon includes analog controls as well... which are equally as bad, if not worse than the touch controls.

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The main problems with the controls, in my opinion, is the fact that instead of controlling the character directly, as you would in any other puzzle platformer, you're using a third party force that guides the main character along. While this is indeed an interesting way to go about the game, it also has it's problems, leading to accidental overshots or undershots with Mion, problems activating certain mechanics like levers or ladders, and sluggish responses to traps that require reflex movement. 

 

At least the game looks and sounds nice.

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The art style used by Nippon in htoL#NiQ is gorgeous and very fitting to the game. The backgrounds are visually pleasing, the memory sequences are interesting to play and offer various different visual effects. Mion is an adorable little character, and the soundtrack throughout the game (when it plays, I found music would occasionally stop if you take too long on a puzzle) matches the environments quite well. 

Verdict
Pros
+ Interesting and great looking art style
+ Unique control scheme in theory
+ Interesting story
Cons
- Sluggish Controls
- Slow gameplay
- Poor control scheme in practice
5 Presentation
htoL#NiQ starts off with a good impression, introducing the controls and the characters in a way that guarantees you'll want to continue playing htoL#NiQ...
2 Gameplay
...unfortunately, the overall gameplay and controls are so horrid and slow you will instantly regret investing any time in the game.
3 Lasting Appeal
After having to repeat multiple puzzles various times, I quickly became sick of playing the game the first time around, and as (AFAIK) the game doesn't feature multiple outcomes, the lasting appeal just isn't there.
5.5
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
htoL#NiQ is a good looking game with good intentions and unique ideas... but they're so poorly implemented that I had to force myself to push through the sludge of the game and reach the end. If you're looking for an enjoyable puzzle platformer, don't start here.
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