When I stumbled upon the game In Rays of the Light from developer Sergey Noskov, I found myself engrossed in not only the chill and simplistic gameplay, but also the stark, industrial landscapes that made up the game’s world. I ended up powering through In Rays of the Light in a handful of hours and was left with a feeling of reflection and awe. I’m not much one for the genre of games that gets maligned as “walking simulators,” but this one managed to hold me in its grasp until the credits rolled and I was left to ponder the incredible experience it had granted me. 

So when I learned that another game from Noskov was getting an updated console release — this time 35MM — I was rather excited to get my hands on it. My hopes were high that I was in store for yet another sort of transformative experience, one that would further ingratiate me with the genre. Unfortunately, 35MM fails to deliver the same level of magic as In Rays of the Light, and even worse, it falls flat on almost every level. 

Now, In Rays of the Light was a remastered version of The Light from 2012, and 35MM was originally released back in 2016. As such, I imagined that the level of quality would have improved — if even a little bit — within those four years.

The main difference, at least on paper, is that 35MM features a companion character, while Rays is a single-character experience.


I hoped the two-character format of 35MM could heighten my emotional investment, giving the player character not only a voice, but another person to bounce off of and share the journey with. But right out the gate, the amount of dialogue is next to nil, and the void left by the drought of conversation is filled with canned footstep sound effects that crunch away with every long, meandering, seemingly pointless stroll through the woods.

It is no exaggeration to say that 35MM has some of the worst sound design I have heard in a long time. Very early on, you’ll encounter a (hilariously silly-looking) bear, and the roaring and growling noise it makes is just the same basic sound on a loop. When your companion is poking at the campfire with a stick, the audio resembles a bunch of empty tin cans being milled about in a burlap sack. And this is all the more noticeable when you are playing this game with a decent headset on — the terrible sound effects are so cacophonous they began to give me an odd sense of vertigo.

But beyond these laughable sound effects, there are also very basic design choices that make interactions a real chore. First off, walking around gives the impression your character is either hallucinating or is incredibly intoxicated. He is seemingly always bobbing and swaying, floating more than walking. 


But more than that, one of the main features of 35MM is the in-game camera (undoubtedly where the game gets its name from) that lets you take photos at any moment as long as you are in control of your character. But even this simple feature is handled ineptly. In order to take a picture, you must first bring up your inventory, highlight the camera, and press the action button to equip it. Then you must close the inventory and again press the action button once you are actually ready to take a picture. By doing this last step, your character seems to actually click the shutter button, giving the impression the picture has been taken, but it hasn’t. There is a two-second delay after pressing the action button, which results in the world freezing and the camera shifting to the viewfinder POV. Once the viewfinder is up, you can now frame your shot and take your picture. 

This might not sound all that cumbersome, but the problem is that when you see something you want to take a picture of, that two-second delay is enough to completely miss the fleeting moment you were hoping to capture. A random wandering dog or your companion mounting a derelict farm tractor might make for a nice photo, but by the time the game catches up to your intentions, the dog may be walking away or your companion may be already dismounting the tractor, so all you are left with is a blurry image of them turning away. It’s unfortunate and kind of maddening.


In a way, this perfectly sums up my experience with 35MM: things rarely ended up the way I had hoped, with moments of genuine nuance or tenderness gone before you could ever hope to take them in.

35MM feels like a student film. Technically, it has the qualities of a video game, but everything feels amateurish and half-baked, and there’s a constant sense that it’s pretending to be far more meaningful than it really is. It’s a shame, really, considering I was genuinely looking forward to trying to recapture the feelings I had with In Rays of the Light. But I guess not every game can be picture perfect.

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