Secrets of Rætikon is a side-scrolling open world exploration game set in the mountains of the Alps. You play as a bird whose aim is to collect parts of an ancient machine and unlock the mysteries surrounding it.
Secrets of Rætikon is currently available on Steam’s Early Access system. This generally means the game is still in development and can be anything from a barely playable early build to a nearly finished game. Secrets of Rætikon fits in somewhere closer to the latter, it is playable until the last chapter which is not complete, but it will be before launch which is expected in a few months time. There are some bugs and unfinished level designs but you should not have any major issues.
The game starts with no story or introduction which immediately gives you that mysterious feeling. The story is told throughout the game via rune stones which need to be deciphered. A simple tutorial gets you underway and introduces you to the mechanics of the game. A game controller is recommended, though you can use a keyboard if you wish. As you are a bird, you fly around the game with some spot on flight controls, they feel very responsive and comfortable to use with a controller. Your bird can glide at a normal speed, flap its wings to give a speed increase and for a fast burst of speed you can dive. Finally, you can interact with the scenery by holding it with your claws, you can pull or push, and even lift if the object is not too heavy.
The graphic style is probably the first aspect of the game that you notice. It is a 2D side-scrolling game with polygon style graphics which is very striking. The background shows the mountainous ranges in the distance through to dense forest, caves and more. The foreground changes style to reflect the game areas, outside in the windy mountains, maze like forests, dark cave systems and mysterious temple like areas. The definition of the areas made up from the polygons are immediately recognisable and wonderful to look at. The audio is more subtle with short pieces of soft tones which work well, sounds effects are sparse and could do with some more work.
The population of Rætikon is quite varied, from cute bunnies and butterflies through to not so friendly foes such as blackbirds and wolves. You have no form of attack, but you can use the surrounding scenery to run and hide, avoid or attack, the choice is cleverly up to you. If you choose the latter you can for example pull up thorny plant roots, fly around with them in tow and use them to defend against enemies. Alternatively, you can wait next to a thorny bush as an enemy flies towards you and dash away at the last second, resulting in a satisfying messy end for the foe. There are more devious ways to avoid death but I will leave them for you to work out.
The game world is open and you are free to explore a good chunk of it from the start. There are some puzzles which need to be solved to progress, usually to access an area containing a machine shard of which there are six. These are unlocked with Slivers which are found throughout the game. Once unlocked, you will often find a fairly simple puzzle such as rebuilding a broken statue with pieces found in the surrounding area. Completion of the puzzle rewards you a shard which you need to take back to the main machine. Beware, the shard is sought after and the local population may chase after you, resulting in a friendly convoy of butterflies or a nerve-racking chase by blackbirds which if they manage to grab the shard will fly around with it until you manage to get it back off them!
Secrets of Rætikon is great fun to play, the pace of the game is for the most part very relaxing and it is enhanced by the open world exploration which allows you to fly around at your leisure and enjoy the scenery if you wish to. The interaction with the scenery and wildlife is enjoyable, just try not to kill those poor innocent bunnies by throwing rocks at them 😉 There are a few bugs and unfinished parts of the game but keep in mind this is Early Access and the weekly updates contain a good number of changes and improvements. If you enjoy exploration, solving puzzles and mysteries set in an very atmospheric world this is a game you should not miss out on. Highly recommended!
We do not provide scores for Early Access games, but we will re-review the game or update this article with scores when the game launches in a few months.
You can find out more about Secrets of Rætikon on the homepage at http://www.secrets-of-raetikon.com/ and buy the game on early access via Steam at http://store.steampowered.com/app/246680. You will get the full game when it is launched.0