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Secrets of Raetikon is Broken Rules’ newest project. They are the team behind the award winning puzzle platforming game And Yet It Moves. The game is the second in a series of games inspired the Alps, the famous European mountain range, from the Austrian indie studio. Players will soar as a bird through a unique take on the Alps as they solve puzzles and unlock the secret behind an ancient civilization that once inhabited the Alps.
Exploration is the heart and soul of Secrets of Raetikon. Players are free to roam the mountains and explore at their own pace. Once players are beyond the tutorial, the game sends players off into the world to discover the remaining shards. It can be tough to figure out where to go at times. There is no map to help remind the player where they are. The lack of map makes getting back to the main altar to drop off a newly discovered shard rather difficult. There were several times I solved a major puzzle and was rewarded with a long wandering journey back because I could not remember the right way back for the life of me.
The level design is wonderful. There are tons of nooks and crannies to discover. The spirit of the Alps are captured wonderfully as levels transition from dense claustrophobic forests to sweeping peaks and jagged cliffs. Broken Rules have brought the levels to life. The levels are full of animals going on with their lives while the player soars through the skies. The animals go a long way in making the player feel like they are flying through an actual forest.
The puzzles are a pleasure to solve. They are varied, creative, and some of them are downright devious. Combat is a puzzle in itself. Predatory animals will attack the player mercilessly until they are out of range. Figuring out how to avoid them will take a bit of creativity and quick thinking.
The controls are responsive and well designed. The game definitely easier to play with a controller as a thumb stick will provide a greater range of movement compared to the mouse and keyboard. Right now the controls are only labelled for PlayStation controllers instead of the more common Xbox 360 controllers, which I did find a bit curious.
Secrets of Raetikon is a wonderful visual journey. The visual design is unique with its triangular design and soft but bright colours. The visuals pay tribute to the inspiration for Secrets of Raetikon. Broken Rules’ developer Felix was inspired by a dream of flying he had one night and that dream gave birth to Secrets of Raetikon. The sun’s blurring effect gives a wonderful warm feeling to the game and quick dives give a dreamy out of this world feeling. Secrets of Raetikon visual design is unique and unforgettable.
My only complaint with the visuals is that flapping the wings makes the screen move in quick jerks. Although it is supposed to simulate the sudden burst of speed, I found it actually caused me to feel really motion sick. The effect is worsened when the player needs to carry something in their claws as it becomes practically impossible to move anywhere at a reasonable speed without flapping the wings constantly. A graphic setting that would smooth out the camera’s acceleration would probably go a long way in solving the motion sickness.
Secrets of Raetikon sports a wonderful and minimalistic soundtrack. The background music plays second fiddle to the sounds of nature. Birds of prey screech as they attack smaller birds, leaves rustle as the player flies through, and the wind whistles while flying, all while the subtle music plays softly in the background. During intense moments, like being attacked by a bird of prey or chasing a deer who is in possession of a Shard, the music comes into the foreground to create a tense chase. The only sound effect I struggled with was the low health heartbeat that will pound when health is low. I found the noise to be a little annoying after a while and I started to hate it even more once the motion sickness kicked in. A bleeding effect is clearly visible while the health is low, so I would prefer that the heartbeat noise be either become quieter or completely stopped after a minute or so.
Secrets of Raetikon is a wonderful puzzle game in the making. It is well designed, boasts solid controls, and is presented in a really creative manner. The game does a great job of allowing the player to wander and explore at their own pace, though it could use a map to help guide players around. Although the game is clearly still in its alpha stage of development, it is surprisingly well polished and a pleasure to play. There are still the odd bugs to iron out, more art to add, and some polish to complete, but if Broken Rules can keep up the momentum, they may have yet another award winning indie game to add to their collection.