REVIEW: reky

Jun
01

REVIEW: reky

Meat-and-potatoes puzzler with good difficulty, but poor design choices.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: beyondthosehills
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Release date: 27 May, 2020

This is a “minimal” 3D puzzler where you have to guide your black blob to the exit portal. To bridge gaps you have to transfer colours between the white blocks which allows them to be moved back and forth along the x/y/z axes.

Difficulty

There’s a good range of difficulty. Some real head-scratchers start to appear halfway through the game but I’ve yet to see any new mechanics. It’s always the same puzzle with increasing complexity – no “ahhh eureka!” discovery moments, only trial and error followed by a sense of relief on level completion.

UI, Sound & Vision (AKA a list of annoyances)

It has a minimal design, as you can see in the screenshots. Three or four years ago I would have been perfectly happy with this, but things have moved on in this genre. Take a look at the Unlock the King series or any Hamster on Coke game and you’ll see what I mean – cheap AND beautiful.

Background music is the typical electronic dirge that you will switch off after five minutes, trust me on this.

No settings menu. No windowed mode, only fullscreen. No volume control for background music or SFX (it’s on or off). No move counter – it would be useful in a game where the number of moves matters, no?

You can press Z to go back a move, but a) you have to keep stabbing at it to go back several moves instead of holding it down, and b) it randomly stops working constantly – it’s hard to describe how irritating this is, especially if you’re trying to do the minimum number of moves for 3 stars.

So there is the Z key to go back a move, but no R key to reset the level. You have to mouse through a popup menu and reset button in the corner of the screen to do that. Why? Who knows.

Some levels have multiple portals that teleport you to another point on the level. Since the objective is to reach the exit portal, it would be useful to be shown which one it is, but no, you have to guess – either because the devs couldn’t be bothered to distinguish it from the others, or else because they thought it might add some difficulty to the puzzle (well it doesn’t). As a result of this, completion of a level sometimes comes as a total surprise!

Since this is a 3D puzzle it’s often important to be able to see which paths line up with others, but because of the minimal design this is not always clear – see the screenshot below as an example. I play a lot of these types of 3D puzzle, and usually you can drag the view around to see what you’re doing. Not in this case. It’s static.

This level is all on the same horizontal plane, believe it or not.

Value

100 levels, and the 3-star level rating system gives it a certain amount of replay value, so there’s plenty of hours’ worth here. $6 is a fair price I think.

Steam

22 achievements but they all have the same icon. It says on the store page that there are Steam leaderboards but I don’t see any way to access them from in-game, and I don’t see the point of it here anyway because the game has no timers and a finite number of moves to complete levels.

Verdict

This is a meat-and-potatoes puzzler. The big plus point is that it has a good range of difficulty, which is by far the most important aspect of a game in this genre. Unfortunately this is counterbalanced by too many minor irritations, poor UI design and lack of variety, making it feel like an uncomfortable and grindy experience overall.

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