Indie developers Box Jellyfish Studios have released a demo for their upcoming platformer Reflexio. The game originally started as a college project and was so well received that the five members decided to make it a full-fledged commercial game. It even took two category wins at the Cornell GDIAC 2011 Showcase.
I took the opportunity to play through the PC demo which includes around a dozen or so levels. The goal of each level is to collect all keys on the stage which will open a door to get to the next level. The game does a good job of slowly walking you through the controls which start as basic directional movements and jumps, but eventually work their way up to manipulating the majority of the stage. The hook of Reflexio is that you can pivot certain types of blocks, keys, and the exit across axes. Each stage has different horizontal, vertical, and diagonal axes that you can swap between in order to shift those objects and yourself towards your goal.
There’s an experimental factor when you combine the jumping platforming elements with the environmental changes that favorably compares to games like Portal or to a lesser extent a strictly environmental physics game like Cut the Rope. While the tutorial stages do a good job of showing you how the mechanics work, there’s still a bit of a learning curve when you mix in timed jumps to the equation. That’s not to say it’s painful. I very much enjoyed the trial-and-error aspect when filling in the gaps the tutorial doesn’t cover. The demo has some clever uses of the mechanics and I’m interested to see whether they extend the bag of tricks throughout the full game.
The presentation in Reflexio trends towards cutesy. Your main character is a koala carrying an umbrella and wearing a diaper. The music is upbeat. warm, and cheery, but that completely belies the difficulty involved in mastering the game. It all works though. Aside from the initial reaction, I never felt like I was playing a children’s game.
I had a lot of fun playing the early build of this puzzle game and I’m anxious to see what the full version has in store. The Reflexio demo is available right now for PC, and that version will release on May 1st through Desura, IndieCity, and directly through the Reflexio website. The release date for the planned Xbox version is still TBD.
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