Review: reYal

Store page / View this review on Steam

Review copy provided by developer via Curator Connect

There are some games that I avoid reviewing, because it’s so hard to talk about what they do right without spoiling what they do right. I believe a good game can stand as a quality experience even with its surprises spoiled, but obviously not everyone agrees and so at times I can’t mention the bits that make a great game great. reYal is one of those games I wouldn’t have reviewed at all, I’d have just told my friends that like brain-taxing puzzles to try on a lark. But this one offers a unique opportunity to talk about an oft-overlooked concept in puzzle games, and in doing so help you see if you’re the kind of person who will enjoy reYal.

I can’t give you an overview of reYal, because divining its structure is at the heart of the concept and gameplay. What I will say is that you start as a small alien in a small room, who can only scoot about and push things. There are big, tempting buttons on the wall and a door that doesn’t open, and once you get to pushing those buttons things really take off. reYal is a game that builds on itself in a very clever way, where what I just told you makes up nearly all of the gameplay but what it results in escalates beyond your expectations. Moving around the room and pushing those buttons is everything you will do, and figuring out the right way to do it while keeping up with the mounting challenges will test your wits and planning more than you might think.

It’s a great little puzzle game, but the genius of its structure is also its biggest downfall. reYal took me about half an hour to finish, and it could easily take longer if the logical connections start tripping you up. For all of those thirty minutes I did the same thing, moving my little alien around and pushing buttons, but the longer I played the more complexity those actions took on and the harder I had to focus. Conceptually it’s a neat challenge but from a pure fun standpoint, it can get tiring doing the same thing over and over in the face of harder and harder puzzles. I know I’m basically describing most puzzle games (and a common structure across all gaming, really) but remember, you’re not solving subsequent puzzles, you’re solving one big puzzle that just puts more and more considerations on your moves as you progress.

As far as I know, there aren’t any other games out there like reYal. Other puzzle games use a similar mechanic but none of them take it as far as this one, and after rising to the challenge here I can see why. I like the concept and I’m glad I got through it, but the repetition I identified made me want it to just end about halfway through. Your mileage may vary depending on how much you like tricky, escalating puzzles. There’s also the clever art style and terribly unique music to hold your attention, as well as the enigmatic atmosphere of the whole thing. It’s a tough puzzler and a mystery unto itself, and as long as you don’t mind chipping away at one solution for the better part of an hour, it’ll keep your brain busy on more than one level.


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