Rehtona is a puzzle game with bigger ambition. With bright colors, charming graphics, and a thoughtful soundtrack it is certainly reaching for the next evolutionary step in this saturated genre. But at its heart, it is still a puzzle game. It is, unfortunately, a sad reality that makes itself known.
Beyond the start menu — which is rather beautiful, if not a little misleading in scale —and it’s wonderfully meditative music, the game itself is rather simple, if not basic. Rehtona introduction looks like a mix between Terraria and Stardew Valley, which is aesthetically pleasing yet again a little misleading since the game itself has limited scope. That said, it is what you’d expect, if not more, from a puzzle platformer game, but it tries to appear as though it is much more than that.
Rehtona general concept of switching between two worlds is a tried and true format and it still has the same charm, it may be nice to see it again but it is certainly not revolutionary. The games key mechanics, namely how your actions and abilities affect each world as you work towards your goal, are generally good. They are also introduced well and adapted rather frequently just as the title’s levels could be bordering on stale. While there may be a handful of buttons to remember, and a few mechanics to get your head around, Rehtona certainly doesn’t throw you in at the deep end. If anything it may hold your hand a little too much, a tiny bit coddling, but that balance is admittedly hard to strike.
Rehtona searches for its difference, its character, in its story but unfortunately, I felt that it was one of the weaker parts of the game. It’s not that the story itself is necessarily bad — I mean it vaguely strings the levels together, I stress vaguely at times — but the story is utterly happenstance and is rather unfulfilling. For me, that is an issue when you list “Experience a deep storyline that deals with identity, memory, and the true nature of self” with “multiple endings” as key selling points. It’s grandiose. While it may not just have a storyline tacked on like some puzzle games, it sure doesn’t appear to have any rhyme nor reason as to why it is happening. Just that it is and how it is. While this is somewhat explained as you progress it didn’t answer the basics for me. If I had to summarize Rehtona’s storyline in two words it would be ‘But why?’
Gameplay wise, Rehtona is pretty much solid, which you would hope for. They haven’t reinvented the wheel here, but they haven’t been lazy with it either, which is encouraging. The menus are very reminiscent of older console or even arcade games, but the fact you can’t navigate with the mouse irritates me immensely, though that might just be a ‘me’ quirk. The only real complaints I have with gameplay are few in number, and that too is promising. That said I did encounter a bug which after an ‘undo’ I ended up trapped behind an object, which was easily fixable if not entertaining.
Due to its grid-like function, you do have to be standing in the same tile as intractable, like leavers, to use them. It may be petty but it is noticeable as you edge closer and closer while mashing buttons as it can interrupt your flow and momentum. On the nature of Rehtona’s level design mechanics, the ability to nudge closer and closer to the edge of a block till you are floating balanced on one toe is something I still don’t quite know if I’d call it an issue or a feature, but it sure is useful.
Intractable objects just didn’t quite have the right weighting to them, boxes were too easy to push for instance — and to undo this small bump could undo several moments of careful thinking and platforming, which is entirely frustrating. An undo button, however iffy it may be, really is a savior. Rehtona does not come with controller support as standard. This is a platforming puzzle game which is arguably casual, yet lacks a key feature for casual accessibility. To me, it’s an issue. Rehtona does, however, allow players to use the arrow keys or WASD layouts which improves accessibility, but only some of the keys are rebindable, which is a seemingly odd choice.
Rehtona is rather pretty for a pixel art inspired title and is arguably one of its more apparent selling points. My only complaint is how easily things can become distracting! Objectives can be lost and the bright colors can become overwhelming, much like the sound effects, which are so crisp and intense that when layered up or played repetitively can become rather offensive. The music, however, is enjoyable but can loop noticeably.
So Rehtona is not so remarkable, and certainly not unmissible, but it is pleasant. It’s a puzzle game with a little character, and that’s okay but it is, in the most general sense, ‘meh’. It didn’t make me feel anything about it either way. Not a glowing evaluation of the games market when a ‘meh’ game is actually good. But that’s where I stand on it. The story doesn’t help in that department as it borders on confusing, and the questions you have about the story are not the ones answered. The story is based on wonderment and lacks any sort of grounding.
In actual fact Rehtona is one of the better puzzle games I have played in a while, it’s story may be a little hit or miss, despite being the feature they push the most. Much like any platforming puzzle game, it is tedious at times and repetitive, but can be gratifying. It’s a shame the story, or ‘memories’, are the reward from completing levels as it doesn’t quite have the same gratifying effect for me. When a game pushes a story to give it reason, a call to action with the player, you need to fulfill your end of the bargain — if you don’t explain the whos, whats, whens, and whys then you have lost the point entirely. It all falls to the wayside. But the puzzles work regardless.