Relicta is a story-driven puzzle game with first-person gameplay on beautiful graphics. While the game experience is quite satisfying in terms of puzzles combined with an engaging story, some of the game’s problems can leave a mixed feeling depending on your level of difficulty. The game is set in the year 2120 in the scientific research area of the Chandra base on the moon. This base was formerly built by Aegir Labs as a place to produce technologies that were ahead of its time until the ’72 minute war’ event occurred.
The aforementioned war turned most of the earth to the ground and buried the Aegir Labs corporation. The governing body is no more. Chandra became a place of joint scientific research between the factions that had fought before. A team of scientists led by Dr. Aengelica Patel conducted various experiments to find out the technological secrets of Aegir Labs at this base. They discover a substance called Relicta, leading to many questions waiting for players to find answers through the challenging puzzles of the game experience.
The puzzle aspect in Relicta revolves around manipulating metal blocks to the end of the level in order to neutralize the energy field that prevents the player from reaching new levels. The puzzle idea mainly revolves around the repulsion mechanism of the same and opposite poles. Thanks to the main character’s special suit, the player can change the color between blue and red metal blocks to interact with energy fields of corresponding colors. When placed next to each other, two metal blocks of the same color will repel each other and different colors will attract each other.
The description is simple, but the Relicta experience is quite challenging and gives a satisfying feeling every time you complete the puzzle. Besides the idea of attracting and repelling each other above, players can also control gravity acting on metal blocks, easily moving them to certain positions for puzzle purposes. However, this physical mechanism more or less leaves a sense of inhibition in the experience. Many puzzles abuse the combination of gameplay mechanics, forcing you to perform the same actions to produce different results.
From a player perspective, the above design makes the Relicta experience gradually become more repetitive later. Not only that, although the opening plot is attractive, it is too fragmented and written in a lengthy manner, disproportionate to the puzzle aspect. On the other hand, the two puzzle elements and the plot are not closely linked to attract players to dig deeper into the game experience. Even if it’s difficult, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that the puzzles are somewhat forced due to the lack of appropriate context to rationalize the purpose of the puzzle.
That is also the biggest minus point of Relicta in terms of design. Each level is separate and is accessed from the interconnected central area in the Chandra base. In fact, this is also the problem that developer Shifting Tides had when designing an independent The Sojourn game screen, lacking the motivation to motivate players to continue the experience. This element can be an engaging story from beginning to end, making you curious to know the cause and ending, or a small hint to get players excited when feeling suddenly smart.
Notably, the game experience has many similarities with the classic Portal series or most recently Faraday Protocol, but the Mighty Polygon development team still makes a personal mark thanks to the quite impressive environment design. Much of the setting takes place outdoors and is meticulously constructed. However, the game screen is only wide in terms of visual perception. In fact, the experience space is much smaller and uses invisible walls as barriers, not for the purpose of solving puzzles, but also for the purpose of the development team.
Not to mention, the listening aspect is also not focused on by the development team in building the experience. The voice actors do a pretty good job of bringing the characters to life, but the soundtrack is so limited that it’s almost nonexistent. This is in stark contrast to the diverse context, making good use of the impressively cared for bright colors from the Mighty Polygon development team of only about 5 employees. However, unfortunately, the plus point of graphics cannot be promoted on Nintendo Switch, making this system the least attractive choice for the Relicta experience.
Many contexts in the Switch version have to sacrifice such low resolution that the image becomes quite blurry, causing many difficulties when experiencing the game. Worth mentioning, the frame rate drop is not uncommon in different scenes when experiencing Relicta on Nintendo’s system. Although this problem is not to the extent of bringing negative emotions in the game experience, it indirectly loses the plus point of the game’s graphics on the Nintendo Switch when compared to other platforms with many advantages in power. Hardware.
The level of challenge is also a minus point that I cannot mention, although it may be more about the player’s personal feelings. Specifically, instead of introducing puzzle elements one after another for you to get used to and then gradually increasing the combination level to adjust to a higher difficulty like most other puzzle games, Relicta lets players fend for themselves. understand new ideas in gameplay mechanics. This design makes it almost impossible to avoid trial and error, especially when the game doesn’t provide context and hints throughout the game experience.
After all, Relicta offers a rather unique first-person puzzle experience, but suffers from many rather unfortunate problems, especially the Switch version. The biggest plus of the game is the very satisfying puzzle aspect on the beautiful graphics and diverse contexts. However, the repetitive heavy puzzle aspect combined with the brain-damaging challenge and the lack of even small hints, makes the game experience quite frustrating with the trial-and-error gameplay. Even so, it’s still a very enjoyable puzzle experience if you’re only interested in this aspect.
Relicta is available for PC (Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia.