Relicta is a first-person indie puzzle adventure game by developer Mighty Polygon and publisher Ravenscourt. It follows a similar style of gameplay to games such as Portal and The Talos Principle. The main purpose of the game is to progress through the story by completing a series of puzzles.
Main character Angela Patel is a physicist stationed in a derelict moon base, Chandra Base, owned by the Aegir company. She is the protagonist of the story and whom the player controls throughout the game. Chandra Base is built around a series of terraformed craters, all of which resemble different biomes ranging from taiga, tropical, forest, and desert. Each of these biomes has multiple areas with testing zones for Aegir’s gravity gloves. Angela’s job is to carry out these tests; however, when something strange happens within the Relicta chamber, things are suddenly no longer what they seem.
Chandra base and its artificial biomes look brilliant, even if it’s a little hard to wrap one’s head around as a concept. The base looks clean and vibrant, which makes sense with the setting of the game. It’s eerily quiet, but it’s not spooky.
Relicta feels like a fresh and original experience within a genre with many other great titles. The game has great visuals, and the story progresses smoothly and isn’t hard to follow. It lives up to many of the standards set by other popular games as to what a fun first-person puzzle game should feel like, but it also maintains its originality. The game is enjoyable and has a good level of difficulty, and the gameplay mechanics are fun to use. It’s neither obscenely easy or hard. Game mechanics are easy to learn at first, and early levels give players a smooth introduction to them.
The puzzles themselves don’t tie in massively with the story and are predominantly done to move the story along. They are still enjoyable to complete as the plot unfolds itself, however. There is short exploration outside of each puzzle area and inside the main base where collectibles and lore can be found.
Voice acting is good, with a handful of diverse characters and a scattering of PDAs to paint a picture of the world and tie in with the story. Dialogue isn’t overly formal, and interactions between characters feel more real. There is some humour in the writing, which adds to the game, though there are few occasions where it feels a little too casual.
I would definitely recommend Relicta to those who like physics-based puzzle games, such as the previously mentioned Portal or The Talos Principle. It’s also a good starting point for those unfamiliar with this genre of games. I don’t find the story to be a strong point, but the gameplay is more than enough to make up for it.
The Gravity Gloves are Angela’s main tool. Their function is to manipulate the physics of objects containing pieces of the Relicta. They apply and negate gravity fields around specific objects (Relicta-imbued panels and cubes), controlling how they move. Simply put, the core mechanic of the game is based on physics.
In order to progress through each puzzle area, Angela needs to use switches and pressure plates to open barriers. Pressing switches with objects is a common but effective puzzle trope, though the originality of the Gravity Gloves’ function keep it fun.
Cubes move by picking them up, but most of the time you will need propulsion. Positive gravitational fields will attract to negative ones, but making both the same charge will push them away from each other. Negating gravity on an object will prevent it from falling or slowing down until it impacts another surface. Many of the puzzles require surfing on top of cubes flying in this manner.
Throughout the game, there is a steady introduction of new puzzle-solving mechanics and obstacles. From the early sections the functions of the Gravity Gloves come into play one at a time, giving players time to digest the controls. Latter puzzles get more complex with new obstacles that cancel fields in a radius, such as drones, as well as timers. Getting the right angle when propelling cubes becomes more important later, and puzzles start to feel a lot more difficult the further you get in. The increase in difficulty is great and does well to avoid being overly frustrating. Some puzzles have room for trick shots, which are easier to do than the ‘proper’ solution.
Use Photo Mode for Enhanced Screenshots
A small feature of the game, photo mode, allows you to view the environment as a small floating camera robot, hiding Angela and the main UI from view. Photo mode has grown in popularity in the last few years, and it’s great that Relicta followed suit.
This mode has lots of options to change focus, apply filters, change colours, increase or decrease bloom, rotate, zoom, and more. The camera can move up, down, left, or right; however, it cannot travel very far from your original position. The camera can’t be used to observe puzzles from different angles, which is understandable but would make for an interesting mechanic for better map awareness.
Developer: Mighty Polygon
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia
Release Date: 3rd August 2020