Htol#niq: the firefly diary – slowly toward freedom

HTOL#NIQ is another game that takes a cutesy child character, and places them in dangerous and bloody scenarios. I’m not a fan of this style of game; but as the plot slowly unfolds its apparent that it was used for more than just shock value.


HTOL is a puzzle game that challenges you with timing and precision rather than the complexity of the puzzles. You don’t control the main character, Mion,directly; instead you take control of two fairies, one light and the other dark.
You control the light fairy using the front touch screen, and she is responsible for navigating Mion through the stages. Dragging your finger on the screen moves the fairy, and Mion follows closely behind. The dark fairy is used manly to manipulate things in the environment like switches. While the light fairy is normally free to move around the screen, the dark fairy is confined to moving in the shadows. Its start position is always in Mions shadow, so she is the bridge between gaps in the shadows to reach object you need to trigger.image

The game does not give you an option to use regular controls over touch screen, and that was a good idea. Part of the challenge is quickly moving between the light fairy, to control, and the dark fairy, to make a path for Mion. Often only giving you seconds to make the right decision on how to move forward. With hazards in her path like saw blades, robots with missiles, and shadow monsters, this journey is a perilous one.image

While the basic journey doesn’t reveal much about why Mion is on this dangerous journey, finding her memory fragments will flesh out the story. The additional story pieces didn’t necessarily make me like that a child is placed in these types of situations, but it provided a good narrative for the idea. They’ve added a stage selection menu that will let you know what locations you still have memory fragments for you to collect, making it easier to track them down. Unlike solving most of the puzzles to pass stages, attaining the memory fragments can be fairly difficult.image

The games difficulty ramps up, almost unfairly, near the end. I can blame my fat fingers,somewhat, for not being able to navigate the light fairy through some tight situations, making me die over 100 times during one segment. The final boss battle is total nonsense. I actually had to pull out my phones camera to beat them (#protip).

As of this writing I’m still attempting to collect all of Mion’s memory fragments, regardless of the sometimes frustrating controls. So the story, for me, is where the game shines the most.

Give the game a try and if you can handle the touch screen only controls and Mion’s slow movements, it is definitely worth a purchase.

Buy, try, or trash? TRY

Additional notes:

The Japanese release had videos that came out before the games release expanding on the story.
They won’t receive official translations, but there are some fan translations that are worth tracking down.

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