Journey of the Light was billed as "one of the hardest games on Steam". Turns out, its first level was unbeatable and the rest were nowhere to be found.
The purposefully obtuse puzzler has been available for purchase on Steam since May. Players -- lured in by the promise of a challenge that would leave their brains looking like sweaty lumps of chewing gum -- collaborated in an effort to solve a game with almost no clear hints or cues. It's actually a pretty cool instance of nearly incomprehensible game design resulting in something fun thanks to the dogged dedication of modern gaming communities. Or at least, it would have been.
All of that changed earlier this week after one enterprising player went spelunking in the game's code and discovered that a few things were missing -- namely, all of the game's seven levels except the first. Oh, and that first level? Functionally unsolvable. As of now, only one player in the world has an achievement for beating it: the game's creator.
Journey of the Light's creator, who goes by the handle "Lord Kres", claimed that a recent update gone awry turned his game into a conspicuously nefarious labyrinth. However, multiple players have pressed him for proof that the other six levels -- still advertised on the game's Steam page -- exist, and he's provided nothing.
Not even a screenshot or video. He did, however, say on Steam that he's now in the process of "testing" the levels and putting them back into the game.
I've reached out to Lord Kres twice and given him multiple days to reply, but I've yet to hear back. Recently, he tweeted out that he was too sick to do anything, but he continues to engage with people on Twitter. Many players think it all looks awfully sketchy and they have taken to calling the whole thing a scam.
So, all's well that ends, er, poorly? Not exactly. In an uncommonly proactive move, Valve decided to sweep up the mess on their store's front porch, offering unconditional refunds to anybody who purchased the game -- even if they'd played for more than two hours or owned it for more than two weeks (the typical terms of Steam's refund policy). Given that Valve usually takes their hands-off approach so seriously that Gabe Newell's meaty mitts are kept in carbonite stasis except in the event of a race car emergency on Reddit, this is a fairly exceptional use of their power.
All that's left now is to wait and see what happens next. It's entirely possible that Lord Kres made an honest (albeit highly improbable and specific) mistake, only to get sick in the immediate aftermath. If that's the case, perhaps he'll, er, un-misplace most of his game soon. Or maybe he's furiously cobbling together levels that never existed in the first place, a much more damning state of affairs. Here's hoping this isn't as bad as it looks.