Reflexio is a puzzle-platformer hybrid from Box Jellyfish Studios, an indie team comprised of five Cornell University students. It won the Judge’s Choice and Gamer’s Choice awards at the GDIAC Showcase. It also features a diapered koala with a magical umbrella that can shift the world. With that kind of pedigree and premise, gamers might ask themselves how Reflexio can possibly go wrong. Except for a few frustrating moments, it doesn’t.
The objective is in Reflexio is fairly simple. Playing as Joey the koala, the goal is to collect the zippers scattered around each stage that will open a door to the next level. The hook to the game is the aforementioned ability to manipulate the world. Certain points along the edge of the board indicate axes over which players can reflect most elements on the stage. Joey stays in place while zippers, the exit, and blocks or spikes are flipped across the chosen axis. The player can also move Joey around the stage with simple left, right, and jump controls. Timing jumps so that the player performs a reflection in mid-air and lands on a platform that wasn’t there when the jump was started is perhaps the gameplay element where the most fun can be found. It can also take the longest to get used to.
The game does a great job with scaling the difficulty level and gameplay twists introduced. The early stages act as a kind of tutorial introducing one new element a time. Vertical, horizontal, and diagonal axes become standard across most stages. Then the player is introduced to blocks that are immune to the reflective mechanic. A moveable box and the ability to open up new axes through puzzle elements are eventually introduced later on. For about 2/3 of the game, there are a number of moments I found myself saying something to the effect of “Ooh, that was clever” and giving the developers a virtual high-five. These moments would compare favorably to those experienced while playing Portal and other titles that include puzzles combining platforming, timing, and creative solutions.
Some of the later stages I found a little too tedious in that it becomes necessary to meticulously count blocks and spacing in anticipation of not getting crushed when performing the next reflection. Some stages require a couple dozen of these situations and should the player mess up once, he/she will have to start completely over. It’s not expected for the player to make it through all stages in one or even half a dozen tries. In fact, the built-in achievement system includes a few goals related to how many times and ways you fail. It never gets to the point where the player is likely to exit the game in frustration, but it can damper the experience just a bit.
The presentation of the game is something of a quandary. It’s definitely family-friendly in its backgrounds, character design, and music. It has the potential to be a little off-putting for older gamers, but after a few stages it’s unlikely players will even notice it anymore. It’s certainly no reason to not play a game that has the kind of puzzles that will tickle brains of all ages.
Reflexio is a great example of a simple premise combined with solid execution. Its looks may be sugar-coated but the foundation is likely to please all gamers that enjoy exercising their mind. While the experience won’t last for more than a few hours for the saavy puzzler, I wholeheartedly recommend it. There’s a demo available for download, and should players wish to purchase the game, it’s selling through the studio’s website, Desura, and IndieCity.
This game was reviewed using a copy provided by the developer for that purpose.
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