ReviewsReview: Relicta

Review: Relicta

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The world of Sci-Fi is appreciated by millions of people. This imaginative look at what the future holds allows creators to unleash their wildest dreams. Though it’s an amazing theme that is thoroughly enjoyable, it still has a stigmatism attached to it. The common misconception is that it’s only enjoyed by trekkies and geeks. Relicta aims to change people’s mind with its touching story and mind bending mechanics.

Developed by Mighty Polygon and published by Ravenscourt, this futuristic physics puzzle game will test your logical thinking from beginning to end. It’s a single-player first-person adventure that allows you to see through the eyes of a leading scientist as she attempts to understand alien technology and the impact it would have on humanity.

Relicta is more than a scientific experiment.

Whenever I play a Sci-Fi game, I’m always worried that it will take off on a tangent. That I will soon get lost in a world of make believe and absurd ideas. Luckily, for me at least, Relicta blends its futuristic elements with tried and tested story telling elements. This generates a palatable tale that flows nicely and has many twists that piques your interest throughout.

You are Doctor Angelica Patel, the lead scientist at the Chandra moon base. This is the home for the mystery alien AI tech known as Relicta. This top secret project is being studied for its benefits to mankind. As usual, the intelligent people that run these programs forget that these unknown technologies could have a downside. The scientists blindly work on, desperate for positive results, ignoring the obvious side effects that are manifesting right before their eyes. This is the plot behind this in a concise and spoiler-free nutshell.

A winter wonderland awaits you.

It isn’t all about the aliens! There are many emotional subplots that are delicately intertwined as well. Such as; Kira, Angelica’s daughter who is coming to work with her at the moon base. Then there is Dr Laia Alami, the “possible” love interest and distraction for Dr Patel. These two characters add depth to the story, and they help to invoke a sense of despair and urgency.

Relicta is a tale of two key mechanics.

For all its futuristic mumbo-jumbo and bizarre storyline, it all boils down to 2 key components; magnetism and gravity. These are controlled with a pair of alien gauntlets. They can alter gravitational fields, and change the magnetic properties of metallic objects. The action takes place across a diverse landscape. Many districts make up the map. Each has a distinct biome containing a test area. It is these test areas where you must experiment with the alien technology.

This extraterrestrial power is the key mechanic in solving the many similar puzzles you encounter. You must move from point A to B using cubes and pressure plates to open locked doors. Floating paths must be created to bridge chasms. And towering heights conquered by riding the cubes like an elevator.

Like with your magnets at home, opposites attract and matching poles repel one another. A colour system of red and blue denote this. It’s a simple idea that allows you to manipulate the location of your cubes. This is the crux of the challenge that lies ahead of you, and once you understand the basic principle, you’ll love this physics bending world you will explore.

Can you master the alien technology?

It’s great fun, but repetition and glitches undermine it.

Shoving boxes around stages to solve problems doesn’t get old. It’s an enjoyable experience watching your plan unfold before your eyes. Yet, the limitation of just two elements restricts the complexities of the gameplay. Each challenge follows a similar pattern, and you no longer search for a solution, but you identify the starting point and the puzzle unravels from there. Like a Rubik’s cube, once you understand the fundamental moves, success is all but guaranteed.

This, however, wasn’t the greatest drawback as many other elements still made it enjoyable. Relicta follows a strictly linear path that strangles any wish to explore its beautiful worlds. This restrictive approach was necessary for the genre, but a little more freedom would have been appreciated. Many gamers will find this focus frustrating, and will yearn to explore the world around them. The other issue is it’s laced with bugs and glitches. These allow you to skip whole levels if you wish. Now, it’s obvious for me to say that cheating is your choice, but it shouldn’t be an option. The issues should have been identified in testing. I don’t expect to find these problems in modern gaming.

The bugs weren’t enough to put me off, nor will they be reflected in my score as they don’t break the game. It’s simply a disappointment that Mighty Polygon released this with these problems.

The future looks beautiful.

Even with all the glimmering metal, shimmering force fields and cold tones, Relicta is beautiful to look at. From the detail that is found on board the ship, to the variety of biomes you explore, each will capture your attention. The change in backdrop counteracts the repetitive nature of the puzzles. This ensures you don’t get bored as the story unfolds.

Even ice can’t stop you.

The cold and sterile approach is continued with the chilling audio. The minimalist soundtrack enables the sound effects to take centre stage. The terraformed biomes have their own weather fronts. The whistle of the wind is ever present and is met with robotic sounds of your gloves and the moving cubes. The spoken dialogue is well delivered, but is sometimes void of direction and emotion. It’s guilty of conveying the wrong message, and will leave you confused about the established relationships. Overall, the audio is a success, but its shortcomings hold back the story, and will affect what gamers think of the finished product.

It’s easy to learn, but tricky to master.

When the game’s focus is bending the laws of physics, it’s no surprise that it’ll take some getting used to. Fortunately, a well designed tutorial helps to familiarise you with the controls, and the test areas where you will spend your time. Here you learn how to; alter magnetism, gravity, and everything required to progress. It is an easy game to learn, but I still struggled to master the finer points. I’d repeatedly make errors and have to start sections again. You may not suffer these issues, but I know I won’t be alone in my struggle.

Part of the charm that Relicta possesses is its requirement to find collectables that uncover parts of the story. As you progress through the game, you will find more of these quirky items hidden around the base. Collecting them will become an obsession, and completionists will have to find them all to get the 100% status. A moderate achievement list can be found if that’s your thing. If you wish to complete this you will have to put aside 20 hours. At £15.99 this proves great value for money, and a good bit of brain training.

Relicta is a fun title with a few shortcomings.

Mighty Polygon has done a great job at creating a futuristic world that is enjoyable to look at. Playing with gravity and magnetic fields never becomes boring, and the puzzles will challenge you to start with. A great story flows from the off, but its poor delivery in places affects the emotion of the scene, and the relationship you have with the characters. Even though it has some shortcomings, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. I recommend you try it, and a copy can be purchased here! Will you be able to use the top secret alien technology to complete each puzzle you face? Take on every training area and immerse yourself in this strange Sci-Fi tale.

SUMMARY

Relicta is a futuristic physics-based puzzle game that asks you to control gravity and magnetism. Can you overcome all the tests, solve the puzzles and learn all there is about the weird and wonderful alien technology in your possession? On point for most of the gameplay, but let down by a few issues.

+ A detailed futuristic world.
+ Excellent atmospheric audio.
+ Easy to play, but tough to master.
+ Enjoyable key mechanics.
- The puzzles can be repetitive.
- Glitches and bugs present throughout.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Google Stadia and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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