Relicta opposites attract.

Relicta is a new first person physics based puzzle game in the same category such as The witness, Quantum conundrum and the Portal games. If...

Relicta is a new first person physics based puzzle game in the same category such as The witness, Quantum conundrum and the Portal games. If I were to give the elevator pitch it would be " Portal but with Magnetic physics , wrapped in an intriguing Sci-Fi story that unfolds as you progress through the levels."  Though perhaps a bit over simplified, it should be enough to get  picture of what to expect. If that sounds good to you read on.

You play as physicist Dr. Patel who is working as a lunar research facility. The base is spread over various parts of the moon where parts have been Terra-formed to luscious environments. In these environment domes, various experiments and technologies are tested and developed. One of these new technologies are tested by you. Your main toys, a set of gloves that can activate and reverse magnetic polarity on various objects, namely special design test boxes. But there is more going on then just a happy future utopia of advanced technology.  Signs of secrecy, hidden agendas and political pressure seem to be ever present on the moon base. And probably for good reason. And it is named the Relicta.  The Relicta is an organic crystal that has crashed on the moon years earlier.  
Even though they do not really understand it, the scientist even have gone as far as making it power the entire facility and it seems also used it for most of its new tech inventions.

Right from the opening moments things are not going well and the Relicta seems to have gone haywire and as you try to shut it down you get swallowed up by it. Then you wake up and it all seems to have been a bad dream.  As you get ready for your daughter, Kira to join the science team something seems wrong however. The facility is near empty and the AI construct called "Sys" that runs the place is acting strange, as if it is hiding something. As you move through the various domes of the base you will discover things are not what it seems. You will encounter the strange and bizarre, conspiracy theories and more . It will take all your effort concentration and wits to figure out what is going on, save your daughter make it out alive and perhaps even save humanity.

At the heart of the story lies a challenging physics-based puzzle game. In order to progress through the game you need to solve various of these puzzles by sorting logic puzzles using you new discovered power of magnetism. 

Each of the puzzles are presented through a series of pressure plates that need to be activated to open up the next area. You can achieve this with various boxes you find on site and using your magnet gloves to move throughout the area and place them on the right switch plates. You use your gloves to change polarity of puzzle boxes and wall platforms causing them to attract or repel each other. If you suspend gravity for a box and repel it it will fly much further and you can stand om them to use them as elevators or platforms to cross larger gaps.

Sounds simple enough but soon you will have to use the laws of physics to get to hard to reach areas. Parts of an area are often separated by various barriers.Some allow nothing through, some only the player and other only those strange boxes. You will also find a variety of strange devices on the walls  that can be used to attract or repel using magnetic polarities.Add the ability to suspend gravity and you will be able to make various combinations to overcome each test site and solve each puzzle.

How you do so is up to you, because the game is physics based there are various ways of doing this. Solving some of the more intriguing puzzles feels very rewarding. At times I solved an issue to notice after the fact I made it too difficult on myself, but I got there either way. In some cases you think the solution is real simple, just to find out that this was just the first part of the test and there is more to solve before you can move on. 

What I liked it  that the game takes it easy on the player to learn how all the rules of the world work. Even as as you get better and learn more tricks, the difficulty regularly comes down as opposed to always ramp up the difficulty allowing you to breath a little before it adds a new wrinkle.

The beautiful crafted world looks open and ready to explore but an invisible field ensures players are bound by the limits of the test area at all times. This also avoids confusion in where to go for your next puzzle clue and getting lost. The graphics that seem to resemble  a bit of a hologram glitch add nicely to the sci-fi setting of the game.

Between each puzzle more of the story unfolds, some information comes from dialog of the main character over radio with other people or the AI. Other information comes in the form of object you find throughout the facility as you travel to the different stations.
Each part of the moon base is connected by a magnetic train. You will find yourself traveling between the areas in an effort to bring the base back online.

Relicta is a pretty game, built in Unreal engine it showcases some great environments that feel a bit sterile. Since there are no people in the facility , things looks a bit too clean,  tad too neat. But they stand in contrast to the lush open environments of the test areas. These bio-dome environments look beautiful, but as they are artificial you will  note the lack of wildlife, the sound of insects etc. All is calm and quiet, sterile even with only environmental sounds there is the sound of rushing water, the humming of electronics and the like. 
Edit: Seem my initial play through had some sort of audio glitch. Replaying after release there were definitely sounds of a lively fauna in the background. It really added to the feel of the lush environment. 

The overall sound design is minimal in execution but effective, combined with a sound track composed by Damian Sanchez ( from Temtem and Rise&Shine),it sets a tense atmosphere for the game. The voice acting, though it might not reach the quality of some of the bigger budget games out there, is solid. This is important because it is the main driver of the narrative. 

The puzzles feel challenging but not impossible. Here and there I would get stumped but taking a look from another angle would often clear things up and then it was just a matter of pulling it off which was the other part of the challenge. Physics engines can be a little funny sometimes so  it can take a few tries to get the box to land in the perfect spot.
At other moments you have to a agile and time your movements which can take some practice.  It makes for some engaging game play and allows for creative solutions.

Although I found the story intriguing enough keep me involved in the fate of the main protagonist and the missing scientists, but it was the drive for the next puzzle that kept me going looking forward to the next challenge. 

Relicta has been given an M rating by the ESRB for language and few drug references. And that is a shame. In fact I believe that this rating is too high. In my opinion it should probably be a Teen rating overall. The problem is the presence of some F bombs in the dialog,  which honestly could have been left out and would have kept the urgency of the story intact.  I am pointing this out because if some cussing does not throw you should not let the rating put you off from playing the game.

The bottom line is that if you enjoy these types of games you should not sleep on Relicta, it is a worthy pickup in any puzzlers library and also worth checking out if you like a fun sci-fi story and want to try your hand at some physic bases logic puzzles. Relicta can hold its own against similar games. It brings a fun interesting experience using the magnetism mechanic, making it an interesting twist on the genre. If any of that sound good to you then Relicta is definitely worth your time.

Game information:
Title: Relicta
Developer:  Mighty Polygon
Publisher: RavenscourtKoch Media
Release date: 4 August 2020
Platforms: Xbox One,PlayStation® 4, and PC(steam).
Review platform: PC
ESRB: M Strong language, drug reference


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