Developer: Mighty Polygon
Genre: Physics, Puzzle
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Age Rating: M (Mature) / PEGI 16
Release Date: August 4th, 2020
Price: $19.99 / €19.99 / £15.99
A code was provided for review purposes.
Physics-based puzzle games used to be all the rage when the Portal series became so popular nearly a decade ago. Plenty of developers and publishers were attempting to cash in on similar success. As the years have passed, they’ve become a rarer find. Now, in the second half of 2020, Mighty Polygon has released their go at the genre with Relicta.
The player assumes the role of a physicist on a moon base called Chandra. Being the sole human there, the game portrays themes of loneliness and intrigue. The player will explore many craters on the moon in order to figure out exactly what is going on, and what impact the secrets of this research could have on all of humanity. Many clues are hidden throughout the game, all of which play a crucial role in the game’s overall narrative experience.
Speaking on Relicta’s gameplay, there are really only two core mechanics while solving the game’s puzzles. The goal is nearly always to utilize the cubes found within the levels to press buttons or plates, which in turn unlock gates to allow for further venture; however, getting the cubes from their spawn points to the aforementioned destinations requires deep thinking and critical analysis of the level’s layout.
The first mechanic is magnetism – basically, the cubes can be turned red or blue, where opposites attract and identical colors repel one another. Some of the level’s platforms will also have colors, requiring the player to solve how to get the cubes across the landscapes by employing patterns of color changes, sometimes with precise timing.
The second mechanic is gravity – the player can trigger the cubes to not be affected by gravity. Obviously, the player can also be sure a block is prone to gravity. Each puzzle will require certain gravitational tendencies, or again, some kind of mixed pattern of the two. Blending the two mechanics will become imperative to solving the many puzzles throughout the entire game.
The Learning Curve
Learning how to play is very easy, as the game makes sure to teach the player how each mechanic works, and how to apply it with the controller. The learning curve is pretty spot-on too, which further helps with adapting to such a dense game. There are a couple of errors with the game that make the controls rigid and tough to handle in spots that require real precision, but nothing game-breaking.
Relicta is a surprisingly vast and long game, even for the more advanced puzzlers. It definitely requires patience of its players, and it comes recommended that one attempts this game over multiple sittings. It can become a little dull trying to play too much of it all at once. Aside from that, it will bring out the most intense forms of critical thinking to complete, especially in the latter half of the game when the puzzles become insane. It will be frustrating at times, but ultimately nothing is more satisfying than clearing each complex section.
The best part of Relicta is its environments. This moon offers many various styles of terrain, from dry desert to luscious forest, and snowy mountains to beachside vistas. That variety really helps to break up the little bit of monotony found in Relicta, and it’s mind blowing how much detail was put into these landscapes. They’re vividly colourful and genuinely inviting; additionally, they help to add a layer of depth to the game and its story. If only the game allowed for more exploration, it’s certain that players would be drawn to explore every nook and cranny.
For a puzzle game, Relicta certainly scratches a lot of itches for the genre. It’s just clear though that this game is more for a niche market, and it isn’t the best choice for anyone looking for something breezy. It will take a hardened puzzler’s skills to fully complete, along with a boat load of perseverance. Be prepared for a true challenge with Relicta.