First fully released game I’ve reviewed in a while – and a puzzle game at that. Relicta was a pleasant surprise that gave me heavy Portal and the Talos Principle vibes in the best way. Relicta is a physics-driven, 3D, puzzle platformer with emphasis on anti-gravity and magnetism. You harness a weapon capable of charging objects (ala the Companion cube) with positive, negative, neutral, or antigravity properties. Using multiple objects for their interactions (repelling likely-charged objects or attracting differently-charged objects) in very creative ways to tackle fun obstacles as you explore the different artificial biomes hosted within a moon research lab. There’s some great character writing and voice acting in Relicta with three major female protagonists that drive the narrative and interline your gameplay with much needed levity and world-building. Overall, I highly recommend this one: the puzzles start off simple enough, but have a good ramp, though the difficulty from the beginning to end might lean towards a spike for some players, but a good eye can spot the puzzle pieces in any room.
The story elements in Relicta are relatively light, but I love the character personalities and the environments despite how relatively simplistic everything is. A lot of the game is streamlined in terms of how the game gets you in and out of levels, and I honestly didn’t mind at all. You will typically do an average of nine puzzle rooms per area, with cutscenes along the way and following you out the door. Puzzles themselves start off relatively simple, but eventually require you to take in all of your surroundings and use everything you can find. I enjoy the aspect that if you see something, it has a use in the level. Eventually, puzzle rooms become expanded and make you transition parts of the level across interconnected areas to connect the dots along the way. Honestly that’s just about all I have to say outside of spoilers. Relicta knows exactly what it wants to be, and wastes little time getting you from story beat to puzzle to the end. There are some bonus secret macguffins to find that didn’t feel very rewarding or clever to find, mostly being around for the sake of being found and little else. If they felt more integrated into the level design as mini challenges, I would have appreciated them much more. But perhaps leaving breadcrumbs for optional material could muddy what the player thought they needed for the mandatory sections. Nonetheless, that’s the only other thing I find worth mentioning.
Relicta is a wonderful short and sweet experience about family, the pursuit of science, and the wonder of discovery. The puzzles are well curated and just engaging enough to keep you going and not overly frustrate. I appreciate how little fluff there is, and the environments are just pretty enough to make me care about the world of Relicta. I hope there are more eyes on this one, because it tickles those same nerves that Portal did all those years ago.
A review copy was provided by the devs.
Hellfirebam has awarded Relicta the Indie Gamer Seal of Approval.