[Review] Felix The Reaper – Nintendo Switch

Written by texjoachim
  • Developer: Kong Orange
  • Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment GmbH
  • Release Date: 17/10/2019
  • Price: £22.49 / $24.99
  • Review code provided by Daedalic Entertainment GmbH

Two households, both alike in dignity

Both tragic and unreasonable love as well as death have been a staple of our stories for centuries. Just think of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. With Felix the Reaper we have another entry in this genre of popular culture and all the hopes of a happy ending instead of a tragic untimely death for our starstruck protagonists.

Felix is a reaper working for the Ministry of Death. This is not an unusual career choice for a person of the shadows and stick to the shadows he must. What is unusual, however, is the fact that Felix doesn’t walk. He dances from place to place. He dances when other reapers stand still. Still, what is most unusual about him is the fact that he is in love. That itself is frowned upon by his superiors, but it is the object of his love that makes the Ministry question Felix’ sanity. Betty, said object of our reaper’s feelings, works for the Ministry of Life, living in the light which is so hurtful for our hero limited to the shadows. To get into the heart of his honey, Felix has to solve all the puzzles of his job and that is where he needs our help.

Light hurts, but love is sweet

The game is divided into several chapters. Each chapter is further divided into different stages. When you select a stage, Felix is transported into the mortal realm. There, time is frozen so that you may freely manipulate the environment to fulfill the task given to you by the Ministry. This can range from moving a keg of beer from one place to the anther to putting someone into harms way to finish them off once the time starts running again. To do this, you have to create a path in the shadows. The sun is both your friend and your enemy. Your friend, because you have limited control over it. With the press of a button, the sun will change its position by 90 degrees, changing the shadows accordingly. It is your enemy, because getting into the light will hurt you. Luckily, you can keep these hurtful moments to a minimum by previewing the change of shadows before moving the sun. At least if you remember to do that. You move Felix by moving a cursor over the world and marking the place where you need him to go. Press the button and Felix will move if there is a shadowy path available to him. If there isn’t, he will just shake his head at your stupidity and wait till you do your job. Finishing all the stages of a chapter will unlock the next chapter for you and hopefully progress the story of Felix’ love. That’s the game in short, it’s puzzles all the way!

What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

With a game about love, some developers might go for a cute style. For a game about death, they might choose a grim style. Fortunately, Kong Orange decided on a style I’d call ugly chick, for the lack of a better description. It’s definitely not cute. It’s not quite grim, but simply over the top ugly. The colours are on point and the little disco effects you get when you do something right in the puzzles are awesome.

The music, however, is strange. You have a constantly dancing hero, but the soundtrack seems to be mostly in his head: He’s wearing headphones after all. I, for the life of me (pun intended) can’t remember a single tune of the soundtrack. A shame, but perhaps well thought out to help you concentrate on the puzzling stages.

How far would you go?

Let’s focus on the stages once more. After the initial tutorial, the difficulty spikes up ludicrously. Add to that the limited if non-existing hand-holding and you’re in for some hard nuts to crack. The game tries to mediate the spike in difficulty by providing tips, but fails miserably. The tips show what you already know, that is what to change in the stage, but offer no help when it comes to how to just do that. Also the controls have a way to work against you. Moving Felix by pointing to the square he needs to move to is alright, but coupled with the way the camera works it is unnerving. You can zoom in and out of the stage as well as turn it right and left, but you still have problems to identify the tiles Felix can walk upon. This results in Felix shaking his head at you when the path is blocked by a broken tile that you couldn’t really see before. All of this turns the fun of puzzle solving into utter frustration. Luckily you won’t run into performance problems as the game runs fine both docked and handheld.

Conclusion

Felix the Reaper is a new take of an established theme. It’s original in a way that makes you fall in love with it only to realize later that this is a love not meant to be. One of the two partners simply does not live up to the expected standards.

Pros

  • Charming story
  • Ugly chick artstyle
  • Essays on concepts and culture of death through the ages

Cons

  • Difficulty curve is ludicrous
  • Tip system is unhelpful

Verdict
It’s not a bad game, but it’s not great either. If you’re open to other prospects, find your love elsewhere.
2.5/5

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