On the face of it, reky (no capital R) should be an utterly relaxing puzzler. In reality, we’ve rarely found ourselves screaming at a game quite so much.
reky (no capital R, remember), is a super minimalist, super intriguing puzzler, one that merges the movement of a single ball through a series of cubed puzzles. It’s not just that lack of a capital in the game title that annoys though. The controls are haphazard too, and it’s in that alone in which the relaxing vibes are fast overcome.
There’s no doubt that the premise of what needs to be actioned in reky is a well thought out one. Your task on each of the near-100 levels will have you manoeuvring a small little ball to an end portal. The idea is to do it in the least number of moves possible, or at least as close to the par that beyondthosehills (no capital B!) and RedDeerGames have decided is possible.
Movement is actioned with the left thumbstick, as you push and jump this little orb through a host of stages. But those stages need to be manipulated themselves, with a combination of right stick and face button moving cubes to create paths. The thing is, only coloured cubes can be moved.
That may not seem tricky to understand, but the unique ability of your little ball is that of being able to suck up and spit out colour. This means that you could move to a yellow cube, rip it of all colour and then move to another to imbue it, moving that cube in its place. A combination of sucking and spitting will help you tease the levels to the outcomes you need.
The difficulty ramps up as various colours signify certain cube movements. You may find that a green cube can only move north and south by two places, whilst a red cube will be able to move east and west by a single spot. Oh, and those cubes can’t be moved if your little ball is on top of them, whilst others need specific space requirements too. With an isometric feel to each of the levels, pulling colours from this place to that, manipulating the level as you go will ensure pathways are created, letting you jump your little ball to the finish. Pop him through that exit portal and you’ll find yourself whisked away to another stage.
It’s a really clever little puzzle mechanic and whilst nothing in reky is really tutorialized or explained, it only takes a few of the early stages to play out before you begin to get a grip on the mechanics in play. In fact, working through the various A-G world segments can occasionally deliver an uber relaxing time.
Of course, what one player will find relaxing, another will find frustrating and even though levels in reky do ramp up in scale, all in terms of difficulty, size, variety and test of the mind, for the most part kicking back for a few minutes to work things out, works well.
But, and you can probably gather that there’s a but here, reky makes things more complicated than it should be. For us, most of that is down to the control scheme and game design.
See, isometric stages can be tricky to navigate and even though reky allows for customisation of the compass directions, moving from a standard to a more iso-feel, we’ve found that manoeuvring the ball occasionally goes wrong. In fact, we’ve found our ball being accidently moved by our thumbstick and would much prefer the opportunity to use the D-Pad instead. When every single one of your ball’s jumps is being tracked by reky for par-move scoring, it’s annoying. Granted, a B button press can roll back through your moves, but it’s just a hassle we don’t want.
Further, we’ve had problems with progression, reky losing our saves, pushing us to play through levels that have previously been completed. When the odd stage can take up minutes of your time, and success can sometimes feel like a fluke, it’s not something that is particularly appreciated.
Whilst we’re in on the negatives, that isometric viewpoint sometimes makes it trickier than it should be to understand pathways and we’re not particularly fond of the backing soundtrack that is included either. We fully understand that it’s meant to aid immersion, to help complement the relaxing vibes, but we’ve preferred to switch it off.
For those negatives though, there are some pretty hyped positives. We very much like the stage unlock system which grants limited level skips if any prove to be too complex, gathering back those skips for future use once completion is obtained. And we love the aesthetics, the stripped back visuals, the colour-palettes that fit in brilliantly with a basic world.
And we like the levels themselves too. Each feels well created, inspired by architectural minimalism, building on what has gone before it without ramping the difficulty up too much before mechanics are understood. Credit must go out to beyondthosehills for the creation of the stages.
reky (no capital R) isn’t the relaxing puzzler that it threatens to be; there’s just a bit too much frustration which comes to the fore for that to be the case. But it is a beautifully created, super minimalist test of the mind, one that, when at its best, will have you feeling the vibe. It’s a shame that a few annoyances knock it down a couple of notches.
reky is on the Xbox Store