With no parents and literally no light in sight, Sammy struggles to make sense of the wartorn world around her in DeLight: The Journey Home. But while the easiest way to deal with all the tragedy at such a young age is to wallow hopelessly in it, Sammy never quite lets herself spin into a downward spiral of pain and misery. Instead, little Sammy does what she does best - face the world with her own brand of spunk in search of the light around her.
In DeLight: The Journey Home, you play as a newly blinded girl thrust cruelly into a world on the brink of war, with no one but her trusty canine companion along for the ride. Her quest to find her parents is made even more heartbreaking by the fact that she can’t see - and you as the player will have to navigate through a school-turned-shelter or the wreckage of a train station with only a small circle of vision around you. In short, you have to try and make sense of the darkness around you, literally and figuratively.
The figurative darkness is, in fact, the overarching emotion that the game wants you to feel. War has broken out, you’re separated from your friends and family, and the world that was once so bright and full of life is now, well, pitch-black. Quite frankly, it’s too much for a little girl to handle, even with a happy little doggo trailing you as your loyal pal throughout all this. While Sammy does her best to stay positive despite the grief, playing through the game is a heavy, heavy experience. The heartbreak is evidently foreshadowed right from the get-go, and I couldn’t help but wince at the pain I knew was coming as the tragedy loomed above me the whole time.
Still, if you don’t let the emotions of the narrative get to you, you can focus on the actual gameplay mechanics to get to where you want to go. Surrounding areas are gradually revealed as you walk through them, and you can avoid obstacles in the way like pieces of furniture with the help of Deli the dog. In the prologue, you’ll also be dodging soldiers’ cones of vision to sneak through unnoticed, so it’s a mix of a stealth game and a point-and-click adventure. It’s also interesting how Malaysian developer DreamTree Games incorporated the elements of smell and sound with the way Sammy navigates the world around her. She can “see” sound waves and scents, but she’ll also make mistakes along the way, like thinking there’s someone playing the piano only to find that it’s just a radio.
One thing you’ll need to get used to is Sammy’s pace, as moves excruciatingly slowly. It makes sense, of course, but you’ll feel the difference when you play as Deli for a short time at one point. This is definitely not a fast-paced game, but it’s likely deliberate so that you can stop and take the time to observe things and talk to the people around you.
And boy, does it pay to talk to people. Herein lies the TellTale-esque element of the game, as you’ll be faced with important decisions to make as you go through the story. As of the first two chapters, I didn’t really see any lasting consequences of my decisions just yet, though, so I suppose I’ll just have to wait until the next chapters come out to see if I made the right choices.
As for the graphics, it’s nothing too groundbreaking - in fact, it may even feel a little bit outdated at times. Still, it’s part of the appeal of the game when it comes to building overall atmosphere, as does the background music.
In summary, DeLight: The Journey Home is a unique and brave take on war and disability. Much like real life, the world around you is pretty bleak and seemingly hopeless, but Sammy’s charming personality (don’t miss the “wizard boy” in the cupboard under the stairs that she adorably tasks to guard the house while she’s gone) will somehow help you make it through. By the way, no spoilers, but heads-up on death and grief - consider this your content warning.