The Uncertain: Light at the End Review
Reviewed on PCAlso available on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, PC, Apple Mac and Nintendo Switch
The Uncertain: Light at the End feels like a game that would have been treated more kindly 10 years ago.
Set in a future where machines have risen up and overthrown humanity, poisoning their water supplies to make them more docile and rounding them up to send away. A small handful of survivors try to make their way through this dangerous new world. It is narrative and thematic territory so well-trodden, you can barely make out the footprints anymore. While familiar material is not necessarily a problem if it was told in an interesting way. Unfortunately, The Uncertain: Light at the End is somewhat lacking.
It hits many very familiar beats for the post-apocalypse genre; supply runs, escaping doomed cities, and so on. None of the beats are handled with any flair or originality, and the characters and dialogue are not engaging enough to elevate the familiar material in the way games like Telltale's The Walking Dead could.
The game does not help itself by offering no option to skip through dialogue or audio logs. You are locked into these scenes of dialogue, and they feel like they last a lifetime. The game's design won't even let you move around during the audio log, so the game screeches to a halt. A tedious or stilted exchange would be less intrusive if you could read through the subs quickly and then skip the audio; alas, the game consistently locks you into the passable delivery of unengaging writing.
All of this would honestly be less of a concern if the game itself offered a compelling reason to stick with it. The Uncertain: Light at the End has very basic controls, but they are still not intuitive. Interacting with items requires you to hold down the mouse button and then move between the options. There is nothing contextual about how you interact with the environment; you constantly have to think about the process; it never becomes a natural process, impacting the flow of play.
Puzzles are fairly simple, skipping between the standard 'find an object, use an object' approach that requires no thought and mini-games, such as colour-matching games. Not only are these games an accessibility nightmare, but they also do not make much sense in-universe. They feel very detached and take you out of the moment; the game seems to consistently make design choices that ruin any hopes of immersion.
Dialogue options are limited and largely inconsequential to the flow of the story. They don't offer you much say in the agency, which is familiar for anyone who's played a Telltale game before, but this lacks the strong writing and performances to help you buy into the illusion of choice.
Nothing about The Uncertain: Light at the End demands investment, unfortunately. A lot of work has gone into producing the game in terms of world design and presentation, albeit rather uninspired and derivative in execution, but the game design choices keep you at arm's length at all times. There are many alternatives to The Uncertain: Light at the End out there, more deserving of your time and money.