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Secrets of Rætikon

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By BloodyFanGirl14-02-2014
CrimsonE (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Secrets of Rætikon

The Defence

Developer:
Broken Rules
Publisher:
Broken Rules
Genre:
Adventure, Indie
Release Date:
TBA

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce GT 440
AMD equivalent
RAM:
2 GB
HDD:
200 MB
DirectX:
OpenGL

Broken Rules puts you in the wingspan of an unlikely protagonist - a bird. In the Vienna based developer’s fourth game you are burdened with glorious plumage and tasked with gathering various shiny collectibles throughout several colourful levels, all set in the Alps. It’s quite a simple premise but Secrets of Rætikon has a great deal to offer.

To begin with, playing as a bird is awesome. Swooping and diving through the levels feels fluid and immensely satisfying. Coupled with the gamepad, movement is genuinely fun. The sense of freedom one gets from gliding through the Alps this way is heightened by just how big these levels are. Each area is huge, with secrets and hidden paths to unlock and explore. The only downside is that, despite having such big levels, the current build of the game does not include a map. I cannot tell you how many times I got lost and having a map would’ve been an invaluable asset during my playtime. For how big the game areas are, it simply doesn’t make sense to me that a map has not been included.

Turn, turn, turn...

Turn, turn, turn...

Secrets of Rætikon’s presentation is definitely one of its strong points. With vector style graphics and a gorgeous colour palette, the game is certainly very pleasing to the eye. You’re able to take in all of the eye candy without distraction, for the HUD is kept fairly restrained to one health bar and two counters at the top of the screen. During the concise tutorial area, commands come up silently on screen when you fly near a point of interest. The screen never feels cluttered or too busy.

As of a recent update, health is additionally represented as an aura around living creatures, going from a radiant yellow to a pink depending on how much of a beating you’ve taken. And you can take a beating in this game. At first Secrets of Rætikon seems like a very relaxed, peaceful experience but danger does lurk in the skies and in the trees. You’ll have death from above from various birds of prey that’ll grab you and haul you across the screen into thorns and rocks. Down below in the forests you’ll have enemies, like cougars, that can take you out in one hit if you get too close. That said, not every animal you come across is a threat. Friendlier parties populate areas too, such as small birds and bunnies. If you help these little guys out you’ll be given extra collectibles as well as a warm, fuzzy feeling.

PULL THE LEVER, CRONK!

PULL THE LEVER, CRONK!

Predators can usually be avoided but some areas will make it almost impossible to. It’s difficult to really confront threats, as they tend to be much bigger and stronger than you and also have offensive moves that you don’t in the current build. If you do die, death only means losing all of the collectables you’ve picked up at that point, which can be annoying, but it’s not too punishing beyond that. You respawn back at the giant circle hub area that politely tells you to collect the other six shards scattered throughout the next few areas. You can easily go back and re-gather your slivers too. It may be a chore but it’s not the worst punishment for an in-game death.

However, if you don’t want to risk dying you don’t have to. The game is extremely open and strongly encourages exploration. If you find yourself in cougar territory you can just as easily fly right out of there and go do something else. Secrets of Rætikon doesn’t require you to progress through its levels in a linear order. However, the further away you venture from the circular hub, the more difficult things will get.

Ouch!

Ouch!

The only part where the presentation feels weak at the moment is the music. More often than not, the score can sound very repetitive and too understated to be memorable. However, the score adjusts depending on the situation so, for example, when predators are nearby the music’s tempo increases and adds tension. This happens even when predators aren’t on screen and can be very useful if you’d rather avoid conflict.

The game is already available through Steam Early Access and the alpha build has a lot to offer. But on top of offering a gorgeous, physics-based, open world populated by all sorts of animals with their own patterns of behaviour, the final release will offer much more. The final release build will include more animal friends & foes, more puzzles, stats & achievements, as well as Steam Workshop support so that players can make their own levels. The current alpha looks very promising and it sounds like it can only get better. And that’s not even to mention the fact that this game is meant to be the first part of a trilogy.

Comments (2)
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Posts: 2779

Le sigh. I really wish I'd had the time to do this myself

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Posts: 1243

Ooooh, an Æ! Getting really into hipster territory now!