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htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary
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htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary

An improved and definitive version of a game worth checking out for fans of gorgeous art and difficult puzzlers.

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Japanese developers continue to flock to Steam, ensuring that the flood of games that appear on the service every day doesn’t consist solely of questionable indie cash grabs, hidden-object games and Unity asset flips. God bless Japan! This has led to a reinvigoration of JRPGs and other less common genres on the service; while there were technical issues at times – Japan’s PC gaming scene isn’t quite as prolific as it is here in the West – we’ve steadily seen improvements.

Some games do especially well on this platform, and one of those is the Steam version of htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary, a pseudo-indie game previously released on the PS Vita last year (that’s a vague romanization of the original name Hotaru no Nikki, by the way).

As discussed in our review of the Vita version of Firefly Diary, this is essentially a point-and-click adventure game where you control antlered girl Mion with the help of a pair of fireflies. She’s lost and you’re going to need to get her to safety, using the fireflies as your tools. The light firefly Lumen is used to guide Mion around, along with pushing her to interact with objects like ladders. The dark firefly Umbra is similar, but exists in the shadows and thus has a little more freedom of movement; manipulating shadows, including those cast by Lumen, in order to get Umbra to key points in an area is vital to completing stages. Mion moves around fairly slowly, so you’ll need to plan in anticipation of her plodding pace to get things done. Tying it all together is one of the darker stories in adventure games, so take that into account before you get started.

The Steam version of the game enjoys mouse control, which is vastly superior to both the touchscreen and analog controls on the Vita. Who’d have thought that a point and click adventure game would be best played using a device for pointing and clicking? The improved controls help soften the blow of what’s largely a very difficult game. Mion’s still going to die a ton, but you won’t feel like it’s not your fault quite so often. Other changes are fairly minimal; the graphics are upscaled and look nice, but this was a nice-looking game to begin with, and the sound is improved on PC as well. Discerning gamers might complain about the 30FPS lock but, frankly, it’s not a big deal and shouldn’t impact the game’s performance or appearance.

If you tried the Vita version of htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary but found yourself stymied by the controls, well, this updated version on Steam is here to soothe the pain. I mean, it’s pretty difficult so it’s just going to replace it with other pain, but you know what I mean. If this is your first experience with the game, then know that this is the definitive version and that it’s worth checking out for fans of gorgeous art and difficult puzzlers.

About the Author: Cory Galliher