Here we have a reflex/timing/control game with only left/right movement to think about, but excellent level design and plenty of challenge for your finger-to-eye coordination.
Developer: Lukas Jaeckel
Release date: 20 Aug, 2017
Genre: Casual, Action
You have two nodes at either side of your screen, a maze of tubes and a ball which you have to navigate along these tubes to the end. You have a choice of controller, keyboard or mouse and what you do is click/press left and/or right to pull (when it’s green) or push (when it’s yellow) the ball. You quickly learn to use both at once to lift the ball upwards or push it down, and it’s generally all about the timing of your pulls/pushes to keep the momentum of the ball going at enough pace to get over humps etc. There are, of course, all manner of obstacles such as spikes, magnets, bouncers, speed-boost chevrons and so forth.
Level overview shows 26 sections (one per letter) with 5 levels per section. You have to complete all 5 levels to move on to the next section, which I like, as it allows me to try other levels rather than being stuck on one for ages. Selecting a level shows the target time, your best time and the online leaderboards – I’m on a few of them! Yay!
Sound & Vision
There’s a green-on-black vibe. This is not supposed to be a pretty game, so if you’re in it for the graphics then you should skip this one. However, it’s very clean and functional and does the job. You can choose your background theme: solid grey; metallic; metallic + gears. As I said, you won’t need a GTX1080 for this.
There are 13 background tunes all named after chemical elements (natch). I think music was the major improvement the dev decided to make following Radium (which has none) and he’s come up trumps. These are great tunes. You can switch between them (learning how to do so is an achievement) or you can leave it on auto-shuffle. I’m particularly fond of Og | Oganesson and I leave it on all the time.
Each level has 3 ratings. Complete it for one mark, beat the stipulated time for 2 and (I think) beat a quicker, unstipulated time for 3. I was comfortable up to section D when it started getting tricky. At section G I was really starting to struggle… and there’s still the rest of the alphabet to go!
On top of that there’s Speedrun mode. I’m slightly confused about how this works. I think you’re supposed to play through the entire game and get an overall time which you can then try to beat. As you play through Speedrun mode there is no level overview and you can’t switch between levels, you’re just forced to complete one level after another with an overall time displayed.
This is ‘one of those games’ with the alphabet and symbols for achievements so you can spell things out on your profile. This is becoming quite common. Anyway, the range of achievements is very good, compelling you to fully play the game and chase objectives. Top marks for that. 6 trading cards; Steam Cloud; Steam Leaderboards; fully cross-platform. All in all a nice collection.
I’ve had Radium (the predecessor of Ra²) in my library for ages but never got around to playing it, so I fired it up for comparison, only to find more or less the same game but less polished. The main differences are that Ra² has fabulous music, online leaderboards and you can use mouse/controller buttons. He’s made a few small tweaks to the levels but they are basically the same for both games. I would certainly recommend Ra² at its current price but if you’re strapped for cash you might want to go for Radium, at less than half the price.
It would be classed as a ‘casual’ game, with it only requiring left/right movement, but it gets very tricky indeed. I’m having a lot of fun and with 130 levels plus leaderboards it’s something you can play for a long time in short doses, improving your skills along the way. Great game, with a ‘budget’ version available (Radium).
(click on the image to see the rating explanation)