The Secrets of Rætikon by Broken Rules is a beautifully illustrated, 2D open world game. Players assume the role of a humanoid bird exploring the alps and the surrounding jungle landscape. Using mad avian skills, players can fly anywhere, commune with other animals, lift things and endlessly explore the environment.
Exploring is the main goal in Secrets of Rætikon. The area where your bird explores is filled with leftover remnants of a long gone, ancient civilization. Filled with puzzles, traps and other animals, gamers have the option to play the game out as they like: choosing to explore the area in peace and interacting with all the animals or actively unlocking new mysteries and areas to learn more about the region and it’s past. Broken Rules designed the game this way so gamers of any skill level can still enjoy the Secrets of Rætikon regardless of their preferred mode of play.
Secrets of Rætikon both intrigued and disappointed me. This game sounds amazing on paper. A press released published on April 10, 2014 describes it the best: “Secrets of Rætikon is an atmospheric, open-world 2D game where you fly like a bird and explore an uncharted world. As a mysterious winged being, you find yourself alone in the mountains of the Alps. Discover strange contraptions, wild animals and the mysteries of an ancient culture. Your quest is to uncover the Secrets of Rætikon.” I didn’t feel like I was in an “uncharted world” or that I was uncovering any mysteries. It just felt like I was flying through a forest, collecting glowing Doritos chips. You do see plenty of strange looking statues and contraptions, but when activated, not much happened.
I unlocked some cages, freed trapped animals and was able to move to new areas, but, honestly, if I wanted to free animals to advance to new levels I would have played Sonic the Hedgehog. I was expecting a much deeper plot than: collect glowing Doritos, activate contraptions. There is a story here however. Slowly but surely I unlocked runes that helped me translate an alphabet that revealed more of the ancient culture. While a great concept, this was a tad boring and tedious to accomplish– especially with the wonky control scheme. Which leads to an important point: though Secrets of Rætikon is Xbox controller friendly, if you’re not fortunate enough to own one (I’m not), you’ll be forced to use…the arrow pad to move!
But this is not to say the game didn’t have its up sides…
Glowing Doritos hovering above strange contraption.
Secrets of Raetikon may have fallen short in the story and plot department, but it rated well in many other areas. The audio and visuals provide a well-produced sensory experience. The triangular geometric art style featured throughout the game is pleasing to the eye and makes it fun to explore and each background is unique, vibrant and brilliantly colored. You can see samples of this in the various screen shots.
The sounds in Secrets of Raetikon are noteworthy for their level of detail and variety. All the sounds are well-developed and were clearly thought about by the developers. Your bird makes a fun chirp or clicking noise while flying and other animals you encounter sound realistic. Smaller details like the wind or the flapping of the wings are also included and provide a satisfying experience while playing.
Solving puzzles is also enjoyable in Secrets of Raetikon. Many of the puzzles you come across can be solved in multiple ways, giving players the freedom to come up with their own creative solutions to each challenge. This diversity, in a game of this nature, pleasantly surprised me. It adds a lot of depth to an otherwise straightforward game.
In the end, Secrets of Rætikon, is an enjoyable game to pick up and play casually if you don’t mind a weak plot and difficult controls. While there is an underlining story that Broken Rules is trying to tell, it is not what makes this game good. So the secret it out, Secrets of Rætikon is a good game if you’re more interested in the journey than the destination.