It has been a long time since I have played a decent puzzle game. There have been the odd mobile games I’ve tried over the last couple of years, however, they have fallen well short of what I’ve missed from the days of Portal. Well, let me introduce you to the game that has finally filled that void; Ravenscourt and Mighty Polygon’s Relicta.
Relicta is a Physics-Based, First Person, Puzzle game that is set on a Lunar Research Base known as Chandra. You play the character of Angelica Patel, head physicist and researcher that is fitted with a pair of ‘Gravity Gloves’ that allow the user to manipulate cubes across the base to complete a series of experiments. These experiments are the puzzles that you need to solve to progress through the game.
The game opens with a dramatic cinematic sequence, a security breach at the main Shackleton base. The Relicta Chamber is malfunctioning and is threatening to destroy the whole Lunar Expedition. Patel enters the Relicta Chamber to manually override the systems in an effort to shut it down. On the radio is fellow researcher, Alami, warning you against it. But you are not doing it for yourself, you are doing it for your daughter, Kira. After you’re briefly given the controls to head to the console, the game kicks back into the cinematic sequence. The Relicta opens up, grabs you by the arm and pulls you in.
The game cuts back to two years earlier in a terraformed forest on the Lunar Base. This is where a tutorial begins on how the gloves interact with the physics-cubes throughout the course. The main goal is to get to the end of the course by placing the cubes onto a set of switches to drop the force shields that are preventing your advance. You can pick them up, place them into teleportation devices, push and pull them by matching or alternating the polarity of the cubes vs other cubes or docking stations. The game then cuts back to two years in the future, seemingly before the disaster the unfolded in the Relicta Chamber where Patel collects an upgraded set of gloves and proceeds to a new testing chamber where are new tutorial begins.
Aside from the tutorials at the start, there are next to no hints as to what you need to do in the game and I absolutely love that. There are so many games out now that consist of way too much ‘hand holding’ that does not allow the player to dive in headfirst. Whilst at times this was extremely frustrating and had me yelling at the TV “What am I supposed to do?”, it eventually clicks and my anger turns to relief with an even louder cry of “Ohhhhh I get it now!”
Although the game is centred around your character completing a set of ‘experiments’, there is an underlying story to Relicta. There is something strange happening on the Lunar Base, systems are failing and there are suspicions amongst some of the crew that they are not accidental; like the Maglev Transportation System that has failed, leaving a team stranded on the other side of the base. You must head to the station to fix it. However, blocking your path is another set of puzzles that must be completed in order to proceed. Once the mission is completed, it becomes apparent that there is more to Relicta than first thought. I will not spoil it, but it completely twisted my mind and I cannot wait to continue in this game to see what happens next.
One thing to me that was quite refreshing about Relicta is the voice acting. I cannot say I have played a game with a non-American accent as the main character for a long time. This, in addition with the passionate use of foul language, gives Relicta a sense of realism that I have not experienced before. The visuals of the game are just as amazing as the story. The clean and simple HUD interface make these visuals really stand out.
Overall, Relicta is a fun and challenging game. Puzzle games are not easy to pull off and given that they can get rather difficult to solve, I can only imagine how hard it would have been to develop them. This game has definitely filled that missing puzzle piece I have been searching for! Relicta is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia and Steam.