I’m just going to get to the point straight away – Optika hurt my brain. I get it. Puzzle games are technically supposed to do that; particularly that through difficulty and mind-bending problems. In Optika‘s case? This game basically killed my brain repeatedly, and not in the way that a puzzle game is supposed to. (Editor’s Note: Need to recharge my Mercy ult for next time…) I’m getting a bit ahead of myself though.
Optika is a puzzle game that has you bouncing light-particles to hit various goals; the puzzle bit comes from the various different ways to reflect, refract and mess about with the particles in order to get them where you want them. It’s a perfectly normal puzzle mechanic, but issues arise right from the very beginning thanks to the game shoving about twenty different tutorial levels at you, with well over twenty different mechanics all thrown at you one after the other. Different types of mirror, different ways of moving things, different types of beam splitters – it’s just too much to take in all at once.
By the time I had ended the tutorial levels, I felt like I had taken some sort of punishing night school course. Naturally, I managed to forget half of these mechanics as I made my way through the game, and the lack of any easily accessed reference guide in the options menu didn’t help.
This tutorial mess manages to muck with the rest of the game as the game assumes you remember every little last mechanic, which in turn causes the difficulty to be up and down like a roller-coaster where punishingly difficult puzzles are sandwiched between baby-easy ones. The difficulty also comes in the form of inaccurate, downright bad, controls. Sometimes just dragging basic bits and pieces across the play-field fails completely, with clicks failing to register and hold-clicks stopping seemingly at random. (Editor’s Note: For those of you keeping score – we’ve officially found a game that can’t do clicking and dragging properly. This job never ceases to amaze.)
The biggest control issue though is just how finicky the rotations of some of the mirrors and beam splitters can be. Too many times would I wind up playing through a puzzle, feeling that I had everything in the right order, all failing just because one piece was a pixel or two off-place. This in turn completely negated any feeling of ‘I DID IT’ that a tough puzzle should give me, instead adding further frustration that my hard work was being negated by trial and error.
And that’s all I really felt – frustration through and through. Sure the graphics are kind of pretty, but I can get the same effect by sticking my head in front of a music visualizer.
Optika was developed by Vadim Ledyaev
Point of Sale: Steam
$4.99; Your mileage will vary heavily based on your feelings on repetition.
A commercial copy of Optika was purchased by James via an IndieGala games bundle (that has since ended) for this review.
James B has broken the 5k games barrier on steam and is currently looking for the nearest games hoarding recovery group. You know, right after he buys another 3 bundles of games he maybe will play. Someday.