Portal paved the way for First Person puzzle platformers and pushed it to the next level when the long-awaited sequel released, it simplified the puzzles but added a humourous and well voiced acted story. The Companion cube became synonymous with gamers, so much so that a game in the similar vein named Qube was released which clearly was influenced by the title. Relicta takes cues from both and attempts to create something unique. Did they think outside of the box, or just get themselves trapped in one?
It is the 22nd century and humans have terraformed the Moon or ‘Luna’. You play as Dr. Angelica Patel, she is a scientist or physicist who is waiting for the arrival of her daughter Kira whilst an unexplained explosions on Chandra base causes her to travel down a path to figure out what is going on.
You are greeted by a unique thing in games, Indian accents and it took me by surprise, but on top of this they were important women too. Angelica, but also Laia Alami. Something I found a little jarring with the characterisation of them was their use of language, I haven’t been around too many doctors, but I’ve never heard one use the ‘F’ word in such ‘interesting’ ways before. The relationship between the two is uncomfortable to witness, very snarky and sarcastic, but you seem to realise they are both very comfortable with the sly digs each other is making, and you will eventually warm to them.
The main focus of the game are the puzzles, which are surprisingly good. They are ingenious and leave you feeling like you are the smartest person in the world. I found that I even completed one or two without using all the set out areas I was supposed to, a trademark of a good puzzle game if you ask me. They are all physics based with gravity and magnetism playing largely into the overall design. You are given a set of ‘gravity gloves’ that can alter the magnetic field of the cubes or plate panels. The cubes are located in holographic ‘barrier-ed’ areas that you must interact with to activate pressure plates as well as use them to help you navigate and platform in order to progress.
Where this game can separate itself is the environment. It seems odd to be set on the moon, but it has been terraformed, so for all intents and purposes it may as well be Earth. You won’t be stuck in clinical rooms the whole time. The game starts off that way but soon allows the player to wonder around and the puzzles themselves are outside amidst cave and rock structures. It also adds to ‘breakable’ nature of the puzzles. Physics in games coupled with irregular shapes always leads to interesting things.
There are a lot of puzzles, you could argue too much. I originally was very keen to move on from the story straight into the puzzles, but found myself getting intrigued into the mystery of the Relicta, which is when I began to dislike the puzzles as they became an obstacle to get to the rest of the story. This may also have to do with the complexity of the puzzles and how quickly this ramps up. Sometimes after completing one I found myself proclaiming “is that how it was supposed to be solved?!”. I feel some gamers will find this game tricky, but other will relish the challenge.
Relicta is very well thought out and clearly all the characters have history and depth. However, when playing the game, it feels rather lifeless despite having this elaborate base which is explained in the story but seems like it could have helped with more physically interact-able characters instead of phone calls. The puzzles are outstanding, but far too complicated for most however they don’t add anything substantial or notably unique to the genre. If you are looking for a good puzzle game that will take a few sittings to finish then this is for you.
- Replay Value