Ah, yes. Space, the final frontier. It is the 22nd century and you’re studying physics on the Moon with a team of top scientists. Your daughter is close to receiving her doctorate degree, and soon she’ll be joining you on this amazing journey through the unknown! Disaster strikes when a secret project begins to cause glitches in the systems…and in you. Now, you find yourself alone on the terraformed Moon, braving harsh environments to search for your missing daughter.
Armed with high-tech gloves that can turn gravity on and off and change the magnetic charge of some objects, you’ll explore the many craters on the Moon’s surface and, hopefully, uncover the cause of the malfunction that now leaves your daughter’s life hanging in the balance.
No, this isn’t a synopsis for the latest action Hollywood blockbuster. That’s the plot of Relicta, an interstellar sci-fi thriller and physics-based puzzle game rolled into one. You play Angelica Patel, a physicist studying gravity and magnetism on the Moon, while also gathering clues to learn the secrets of Chandra Base and the mysterious Relicta. You are given special gloves that can help you use magnetic charges and gravity to move cubes and activate platforms to help you navigate the Moon’s craters and investigate the sudden and suspicious malfunctions of Systems (Patel’s AI).
First and foremost, Relicta is a puzzle game, and a good one at that. Those neat high-tech gloves I mentioned? Those are important to helping solve the many puzzles you’ll come across. They start out fairly simply; pick up a cube, put it on the pressure plate, and ding! The shield is down and you can walk through. As you progress, the puzzles get more difficult. The number of pressure plates increases and it’s important to carefully figure out how to arrange the cubes so you can continue on your path. Magnetism and gravity become essential in these puzzles, and the game gives you a crucial piece of advice early on: opposites attract, like repels.
Using these basic physics you can bring cubes together, push them apart, or have them travel between magnetized plates (this turns cubes into elevators and side-to-side platforms if you turn the gravity off!). By turning the gravity on and off and following the rules of magnetism, you can hit switches on the roof, knock cubes off unreachable perches, and so much more. As you solve the puzzles, you get to explore each environment – tundras, deserts, and tropical islands, to name a few – more deeply.
Along with solving the puzzles, you can explore the base and collect clues to store in your PDA, which can be accessed at any time by opening your device. These clues can be found just about anywhere, including in laboratories and testing rooms. They come in many forms, such as pictures and research logs, but they all help to flesh out the story and explain more about the Relicta and Patel’s family.
The story is interesting and you find yourself getting invested in Patel’s mission and figuring out what the Relicta is. It isn’t exactly an unheard plot, but it has just enough uniqueness to keep you wondering. The gameplay is challenging and often frustrating, especially when some of the puzzles seem to have no solution at first. However, this is where one of my favorite features of the game comes in: the reset button. Every puzzle allows you to reset to its beginning orientation, which is a huge blessing when you get stuck. You can do this as many (or as few!) times as you need to.
Relicta has nice, stylish graphics. The environments are pretty, and playing in the first-person view really allows you to take them in. The soundtrack by Damian Sanchez is particularly nice; I went and searched for it on YouTube just so I could listen to it again. It adds to the overall feel of the game and complements the story, which is great as I love a compelling musical score to keep me in the moment while I play.
With beautiful scenery, a fantastic soundtrack, a gripping plot, and challenging yet fun physics puzzles, Ravenscourt has a real winner with Relicta. While some of the puzzles can be on the more brain busting (i.e. challenging) side, a forgiving replay system and intuitive interface help make solving them more rewarding than frustrating. Fans of sci-fi and similar physics-based puzzlers like Portal will literally gravitate towards this truly stellar space adventure. You can’t escape science – it just pulls you in!