Relicta review: Magnetic puzzles made repulsive

Mighty Polygon
Mighty Polygon /

Title: Relicta
Developer: Mighty Polygon
Publishers: Koch Media
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on)
Release Date: April 15, 2021

Having played through Relicta, the easiest, quickest way to describe my thoughts on this game would be to channel some 1990’s SNL-era Weekend Update David Spade and say, “I liked Relicta a lot (pause for effect) wheeeeeen it was called Portal.”

Now, I know it’s not fair to call every first-person puzzle game a Portal clone but this game is literally picking up cubes using a magnetic device that works off both triggers and placing the cubes on weighted triggers as you make your way through various test chambers. The primary difference is that while Portal was a mostly lonely game with occasional interaction with sociopathic A.I. units, Relicta is absolutely full of characters. You can tell because you have a multitude of characters hitting you up at random times during the game to scream “f—” at you.

Seriously. I’m an adult who has two kids. I’ve stood out in the backyard at night and screamed “f———-” to the moon like a wolf howling. But this game uses the word so much it would make a Bill Burr impersonator blush.

It got to the point where the main way I could tell the characters apart was from the level of how often they swore in frustration.

Visually, the game is alright but is woefully dated. Jaggy surfaces and low res textures plague the landscape. And some of the text on door switches were so blocky it just looks like it was written in Tetrino.

Some of the visual cheats they use as well can completely break the environment for a moment. For example, if you stand in the water and tilt your head up and down the fake reflection texture attached to the world around you in the water breaks through all the rocks and landscape in the surrounding area, creating an infinite void of water-like surface.

As for the gameplay, it performs alright, but the physics engine is definitely underwhelming. In Portal, if you place a cube on the edge, it will tilt over the side and fall, bouncing and rolling a bit. In Relicta, no matter how far over the edge the cube is, if it’s on the edge it stays on the edge and when it falls… thunk. This has a few surprising benefits because if you get the cube anywhere near the switch it needs to be on, it will click directly on it, turning itself to fit perfectly centered upon the switch.

The controls for these puzzles are fairly straightforward. One trigger makes the cube give off a positive charge, while one trigger makes the cube have a negative charge. Two objects with opposite charges will snap together. Two objects with the same charge will push each other away. Likewise, a shoulder button that allows you to turn off gravity in a cube will cause that cube that’s pushed away to keep moving in that direction until it hits something.

While this sounds like a puzzle set up that would be filled with ideas, the puzzles are rather bland. It usually becomes a situation where you just have to figure out how to get a block behind a forcefield to a switch that’s elsewhere.

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Together all these elements combine into a game that would have been an absolute blast fifteen years ago. Now it just became an experience that my wife and I gave Mystery Science Theater 3000 dialogue to throughout the whole thing.

“Behold, my garden of the exact same two-tone shrub…OF THE FUTURE!”

“In the future, everyone has the exact same butt which is why the same beanbag chair with the exact same dent exists in everyone’s room.”

And my personal favorite:

“Why does everyone have empty cabinets in their rooms?” “Maybe it’s where they store all the plot holes?”

The game definitely means well. I wanted to like it more. I genuinely try to give everything the benefit of the doubt but this game felt like one of the first games you could download off the PS3’s PSN store and desperately needed more polish before launch. Because while I got excited for a game about magnets, it just repelled me.

Mighty Polygon. . Relicta. 5. Relicta has a lot of clever ideas that are marred by a heavy lack of polish. Unnecessarily large hub worlds littered with an oversaturation of clone items, like benches and beanbag chairs, broken and muddy textures, and a wealth of characters that all feel written in the same voice, create a world that felt less like an escape and more like a chore. This is a game that seems so confused by the capability of magnets, I’m surprised Insane Clown Posse wasn’t given a special thanks in the end credits.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.