Relicta is a first-person sci-fi puzzle experience and is available on PS NOW. It channels the likes of Portal and The Witness. The story is that you are a top physicist stranded on the moon alone and you are in this empty base. You have an AI companion as well as the occasional phone call with other characters. The story is not deep but the game at least attempts to put some meaning behind the next task or puzzle.
Relicta for the most part sticks to a single formula, the ability to manipulate cubes with magnetism whether that’s pulling, pushing, or even impacting their gravity and giving the cubes the ability to float. They can also then be used solo or in multiples which means they impact each other. The area they impact is marked by a field that surrounds them in blue or red. The color essentially represents the magnetism though where the same colors will attract and the opposite colors will push.
The controls in Relicta are nice and simple, aim at a cube and use the left or right trigger for the magnetism changes and then you can also sprint and jump as well and that’s really it for the controls. The gameplay loop is basically to explore the hub base which is sizeable and either find secrets or simply move to the next location to do what the game calls tests. This is where the puzzle gameplay occurs. The puzzles increase in challenge and for the most part, it’s all about getting a cube to a switch but it does add a little bit of variety in how you use them.
To start you’ll simply be picking them up and dropping them but by the end game, you’ll be using them as platforms to stand on knocking others out of the way and teleporting them around. The challenge starts around 30 minutes when it really ramps up the difficulty. So, like any game in this genre, the real challenge is understanding the physics and boundaries of the world, and Relicta in that sense is solid. There are multiple paths to success and the cubes are relatively consistent in their behavior of how they react to things which is important.
The puzzles are challenging but they never felt luck-based or obscure. Occasionally the cubes felt a little unresponsive, one time I had to knock a cube off a shelf, and no matter what I did I just could not get it to fall down and it was like 10 minutes of repetition just trying the same thing over and over before I eventually succeeded. These moments aren’t frequent so I wouldn’t worry about them too much.
The jump on the other hand feels unrealistic as you are a tough physicist but you can’t work out how to get onto a ledge not much higher than your waist and require a cube to get over where you can literally just fall over the ledge. The hub world is sizeable but it also just feels mostly irrelevant. I get the idea you are on the moon alone but walking around a lifeless location isn’t particularly fun and it doesn’t feel like there was really ever life there, it’s just a whole lot of corridors with the occasional file to add some backstory.
If they cut these moments down and tighten up the pacing it would absolutely benefit from it. The puzzles are challenging but they don’t really evolve too much for me and a little extra variety would have for sure gone a long way. Overall, I did enjoy the gameplay and the puzzles but I just wish there was more variety to them as it felt like they had a good concept and just kind of stuck with the same thing from beginning to end. I completed Relicta in around 6 hours but I can also see all the potential this concept has if they would’ve just gone a little more creative and played it a little less safe.
Graphically Relicta looks good and the environments and cubes all had decent textures. The location variety is good as you move through the different seasons and the base looks nice enough but very empty. The frame rate never dipped but honestly, there’s not a whole lot of animation in Relicta. The soundtrack in Relicta goes for that dark and ominous tone and its design was a wise choice because it adds atmosphere and intrigue to the whole experience.
The cube effects are great and very futuristic and this is all backed up with some weather and mechanical sounds and overall, the sound design was fitting. The voice acting is decent but the writing is all over the place and I think they did what they could do with the script that they got. Overall Relicta is not bad but it’s not a high point for the genre either with that said I still felt like it challenged me in a unique way.
It’s going to be very easy to draw comparisons to others in this genre but I think it’s got just enough of its own kind of thing going on for it that it can at least stand out. Presentation-wise, graphics, story, and audio are decent but the writing often felt forced and I just couldn’t connect with the characters. If you are looking for a game to test your brain for a little while then definitely try out Relicta.
Relicta has been permanently added to the PS NOW service.
It's going to be very easy to draw comparisons to others in this genre but I think it's got just enough of its own kind of thing going on for it that it can at least stand out. Presentation-wise, graphics, story, and audio are decent but the writing often felt forced and I just couldn't connect with the characters.