htol#NiQ: The Firefly Diary… Well if that isn’t a mouthful than who knows what is. Rather than continue to roll off that lengthy label, let’s call it The Firefly Diary for short.
Developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America, The Firefly Diary is available to players on the PlayStation Vita. Notoriously claimed a “dead” handheld to players everywhere around the world, you can’t help but scratch your head at the confusing line of games that Sony continues to push through the PlayStation Vita. When it comes to The Firefly Diary —Sony only further hammers a nail in the handheld’s coffin.
The game kicks off in a small room, where little Mion is sleeping peacefully. Awakened by a strange, light blue firefly, Mion walks out the door and into a very strange world. As the story progresses, Mion meets a dark purple firefly and together both Mion and her new friends navigate through light and darkness while she pieces together her memories found scattered around the world.
With an art style similar to Machinarium, The Firefly Diary is an aesthetically pleasing indie game. The fireflies look almost identical to Tatl and Tael from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and with them guiding Mion through the darkness, you tend to get caught in the pretty sepia world she lives in. There were many times while playing that I felt I was back in a less intricate version of Child of Light since the ambiance and theme feel quite similar.
Where The Firefly Diary falls short is certainly in its touch play. Restricting all in-game controls to the front and back touch screen use, I found myself feeling frustrated more often than not. Wherever your finger goes, the firefly goes. If you let go, the firefly will no longer move, and neither will Mion.
As Mion preceedes to never move on her own, she simply continues to follow your finger while you wait for her to catch up. I held my finger down patiently as she slowly climbed up and down ladders and watched intensely as she pushed and pulled blocks. Although Mion seemed like an interesting playable character, she felt like nothing more than a useless dud the entire game, and that was frustrating.
In addition to the touch screen affecting the gameplay, there were countless times where I had to angle the screen in awkward positions so I could slide my thumbs and index fingers in accordance to the direction I needed to go. Since the Vita has such a wide screen, being able to keep my fingers pressed down while sliding my finger forward proved to be difficult, and I felt like Rex in Toy Story 2 when he tried to combo attack Zurg in the final boss level. ARGH!
It isn’t hard to believe that The Firefly Diary could have potentially been a decent game if the controls were issued differently. Using the two fireflies to navigate through the light and darkness could have been made easier with a touchscreen toggle between the two fireflies, rather than forcing players to use two different touch screens.
The Firefly Diary has major technical flaws, which completely stifled a future for what could have been an enjoyable indie game. When The Firefly Diary was first previewed, I felt excited to dive into the hazy dream world that Mion and her fireflies inhabit, and I’m still disappointed that it wasn’t a world where I wanted to stay.
Do yourself a favor; save the $14.99 and go buy a game worth playing. If you haven’t played Persona 4 Golden yet, do that instead —it’s on sale!
This review of htol#NiQ: The Firefly Diary is based off a digital copy for the PlayStation Vita provided by NIS America.