Ratalaika Games have been reversing through their back catalogue, looking for games that might look good with an ‘Optimised for Series X|S’ sticker on them. This time it’s the turn of pocket platformer Reed Remastered.
But unlike many of Ratalaika’s previous remasters or optimisations, Reed Remastered thoroughly deserves it. Sure, it’s a bit of a throwaway and slight platformer, but it’s one whose visual stylings and OTT, snap-crackle-and-popping visual effects make it an ideal target for a graphical improvement. Its art is razor-sharp, and that’s down to the optimisation job.
It barely stands still. Glitches and flickers spasm across the game menus, making you wonder if something has gone wrong with a recent patch. The levels pan, zoom and spin like they’ve been directed by Michael Bay. And the baseline pixel art is better than expected, doing a lot with a little, delivering a cute and claustrophobic set of levels.
It’s not a reason to purchase Reed Remastered (Series X|S), but it’s encouraging to find a budget, indie title that actually benefits from the X|S logo on their store image. Other indies should take note: this is how you wring the very best from your £4.99.
Elsewhere, Reed Remastered (Series X|S) is run-of-the-mill. It’s not bad by any stretch, but it’s a platformer that takes the approach of doing nothing new, doing it reasonably well, and then not having enough of it. In budget platforming terms, it’s straight down the middle.
There’s a wafer-thin plot about a supercomputer ruining the world, and a cat grown in a petri-dish having to save everyone by collecting mysterious cubes. That’s what we gleaned from the minimal set up, and we’re not convinced that we’re meant to care. This is really a pure platforming experience.
What you have are fifty levels, each tasking you with grabbing a solitary cube, which reveals the position of an exit door that you can scoot through. There are no levers, key cards, block-pushing puzzles or anything even remotely like that. You could argue there’s not even any enemies: a few chickens waddle through levels, but they don’t attack and they’re mostly there to add moving obstacles or offer a springboard-like bounce.
So, it’s platforming gymnastics, as you make precision-based jumps, some timing-based jumps (a few platforms only appear momentarily if you touch a torch earlier in the level) and dodge various spinning blades and spikes. Nicking an obstacle means instant death – there are no hearts or life bars here – which takes you back to the start of the level. But that’s fine, as levels are no more than a minute long to complete.
It’s all entirely okay. We will concede that the balancing is spot-on: it’s precisely in the space between unjustly hard and benignly easy, and we found ourselves at the end of the game without feeling in pain or bored. But there is nothing of interest in the levels. We couldn’t draw one for you or recall one from memory. They’re just a series of smallish obstacle courses, created from a limited library of pieces.
Controls and gameplay are also okay. We’re clearly in the Neutral Zone when it comes to Reed Remastered (Series X|S). The platforming is quite precise, but the collision detection is savage. It’s not that it’s unfair: it’s just that the merest nick of a pixel and you are dead. The problem is minorly exacerbated by spikes that are wide as a truck. You think you’re clear of them, but you will have lightly grazed the base of the spike and you’re down for the count.
There are a few secret areas to find in the levels, garnished with an achievement, but otherwise there is remarkably little to collect or keep an eye open for. That obviously has an effect on longevity, as Reed Remastered (Series X|S) has none. The fifty levels are done in less than ninety minutes, which – considering their size – is a little light, even for the £4.99. As a package, it’s on the thin side.
There’s no denying that Reed Remastered (Series X|S) has class. This cat has a slick approach to pixel art, and a VFX artist was clearly given the rope to do whatever they wanted, loading it with visual fireworks. But the game itself is fine but flavourless, an aggressively average platformer that doesn’t care for ideas, memorable moments or reasons to return. We can’t get excited by Reed Remastered (Series X|S). It’s a gaming shrug.
You can buy Reed Remastered (Xbox Series X|S) from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S