First level of Heartlight
|Distribution||3½-inch floppy disk|
Heartlight is a puzzle game originally developed by Janusz Pelc for 8-bit Atari in 1990. In 1994, an MS-DOS port (Heartlight PC) was published by Epic MegaGames along with two other games by Janusz Pelc in the Epic Puzzle Pack. The shareware version contained 20, the full version (Heartlight Deluxe) 70 levels. In 2006, Maciej Miąsik, co-author of the DOS version, recompiled it and released it under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 license.
The game is set up on a 12x20-square grid. Some of the levels make full use of the space, others fill unused space with a moving background. The game is played as from the side (unlike some bird-eye-view puzzle games), with gravity playing an important part.
The object of the game is to help Percival, the elf character you guide with your keyboard, collect all the hearts on each level and get to the door. Different objects with unique characteristics aim to make reaching this goal more complex.
Unlike many computer games, Heartlight is neither timed nor limited to a certain number of lives. However, there is no Save feature, so under the original DOS environment you lose your place if you quit to do something else. You can restart the level by pressing Esc as many times as you wish, and in most levels you can sit and study them before beginning.
However you don't have to replay each level when returning to this game. You can advance to a different level by holding down the space bar and using either of the left or right direction arrows on the keyboard. The game will work on a modern operating system under DOSBox.
Objects in play
Basic objects you will see on almost every level include bombs, rocks, and hearts. While hearts are one of the goals, they can also fall on and kill Percival. Bombs blow up when squashed or dropped on a hard surface. Rocks squash Percival and can blow up bombs. There are several other objects that you come across while playing the game, and the only way to learn about them is to experiment. Several kinds of walls and empty space also have unique properties that must be tested.
Heartlight plays a looping track of music along with sound effects for interactions with objects. Hearts falling make a "tink" noise, rocks clunk when they fall on hard objects, and the door creaks when it opens, for example.
The game was later released as part of the Epic Puzzle Pack (with Robbo and Electro) which was reviewed in 1994 in Dragon #206 by Sandy Petersen in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Petersen gave the compilation 3 out of 5 stars.