Reed Remastered attempts to bring its addictive and challenging gameplay from phone to console, but was it worth the effort in the first place?
The first thing you notice upon booting up Reed Remastered is its cutesy art style, and this is something that works well with the ultimately minimalist style the game achieves. It doesn’t make a statement with the art style, but it merely attempts to fit an atmosphere. All the backgrounds follow this route of archaic structures ultimately lost to time with a faded colour palette and overgrown moss. The animations when jumping and collecting the cube to finish the level are pretty and fit with the overall style. Furthermore the art goes for a somewhat humorous style and the titular character (and accompanying chicken) have exaggerated but not overbearing expressions. This works well in contrast to the sometimes rather frightening music and story design.
The story in Reed Remastered is simple but effective. You, as Reed, exist within a virtual world where you are tasked with finding cubes of information in order to recalibrate the computer ultimately emulating you. There is a tinge of existential storytelling in this but this is not explored (probably for the best given the title’s scope). This sense of minimalism is something prevalent through all design aspects of Reed Remastered.
The music design is wonderfully atmospheric. It often features long patches of just background level noise then intersperses that with small bits of dark synth. These pieces convey a sense of loneliness and despair, but often bring slight hope. When the only noises that can be heard consistently throughout all 50 levels convey either dark synth or your own movements, it solidifies this feeling. It really shows you are effectively alone in your mission and it’s all down to you to complete it. The music is also very effective in determining what is in the level with you. Upon starting a stage you may hear traps or footsteps which is a great subtle way of preparing you for the level ahead.
The level design has many good and bad design choices in Reed Remastered. There are a lot of stages for its price point and they often feel varied with different uses of traps and unique mechanics. It also features a handful of secrets that can be found by jumping through secret holes in walls. The secrets themselves don’t offer any new content to play through, but do offer a reward in the form of a cube of information for finding them. However, the worst design choices from Reed come in the form of artificial difficulty.
For the most part Reed Remastered manages to combine its fun gameplay with difficulty in an effective way but it often relies too much on a leap of faith to go forward in a level. This essentially means that an unseen pit below the character has spikes, enemies or all manner of traps. One must traverse through them to progress so at times the player must jump at random with the hopes of succeeding. Difficulty in platformers dependant on this form of RNG is not good for a game based on skill. The constant attempt and respawn formula of this style of platformer is great until you start feeling like your deaths aren’t down to your own lack of skill, but down to the whims of the game. This feels like a relic from mobile phone gaming and is one of the few aspects that translates poorly to console.
Reed Remastered is fun and well designed atmospherically but it lacks any reason to go back after finishing. Its replayability is very low outside of speedruns yet at no point does it offer any in-game timer for how long you have played. The entire game takes around an hour to finish and ends conclusively in a satisfactory way, but that’s all the content Reed has to offer on release.
Overall, Reed Remastered on Xbox One gives us a pretty sizable amount of content for the small price point. Its minimalist storytelling and world design are great when playing but ultimately wont preoccupy any more time after your first run through. Furthermore, its artificial difficulty turns some of the harder levels from a fun challenge to downright frustrating. This is an easy game to recommend to any platformer fan or achievement hunter but ultimately Reed Remastered fails to make a lasting impression.