Format reviewed: PC
Developer: Broken Rules
Publisher: Broken Rules
The concept of Secrets of Raetikon is simple but rewarding. You play as a bird that flies around a very engrossing world, avoiding obstacles such as other hostile birds, who drag you into spikes or wolves that climb up the branches of trees in order to reach you. Your main objective is collecting ‘slithers’ which are used to open doorways and gain shards. You then take these shards back to a network of cages that open when you drop a shard in the marked position. It’s very simple, but that’s part of the charm.
There are many side objectives as you glide through the world that aren’t explicitly pointed out, they’re just there for you discover. There are small, helpless birds that are in danger which you can help or you can reunite bunnies which then reward you with some blue shards. These build up to getting another life. It made the world feel vibrant and a rewarding place to be.
What makes the game feel unique is your lack of power. Surprisingly the bird does not upgrade its laser cannons that reside on each wing as you level up and gain new abilities. It’s just a bird and that’s a good thing because it means you actually have to think when playing the game, it doesn’t just become, mindlessly blasting through waves of enemies. It feels like you really are controlling a bird that is under threat from real world dangers and you have to deal with them using the environment to your advantage. Dropping rocks onto them leaving them crippled and bleeding or grabbing hold of them with your talons and driving them into spikes are just some of the ways to deal with the dangers around you. At one point I was returning a shard back to the main hub when I noticed a bird was following me and others were joining in the chase. They were not out to hurt me, only to follow the shiny shard in my talons and that small moment helped me understand what this game is really about.
The controller is recommended by the developers so that’s what I used and I have no complaints having picked up the controls in minutes. I had a quick go with a keyboard and it didn’t feel as good, but it was 100% playable. The art style is really neat; the angular origami-type look is refreshing and helps with the focus on nature. Everything looked great separated into 2d triangles especially the wildlife and statues and the backdrop is also well designed.
The puzzles are simple, even though I had a little trouble completing them due to the awkwardness of carrying parts of a statue through the air and lining them up just right before dropping the piece. Also there were moments where I found myself stuck in parts of the environment where I had to tap a furiously for a minute until I could be free again, but these are problems that can easily be fixed. I look forward to experiencing what this mysterious world has to offer as the game continues through its development process.