Developed by Rice Cooker Republic – a small development team from Paris, France – Bokida – Heartfelt Reunion is an abstract, adventure puzzle game where you explore a strange monochromatic open world with the sole goal of reuniting two lost planets.
At the heart and soul of the game, Bokida – Heartfelt Reunion is a story of love as you play as the Messenger who is tasked with reuniting two long lost planets – weird, I know. Bokida’s story-line – while narrated in Korean –feels rather vague and at times quite bare – almost as if it is missing something. While Bokida’s storyline won’t be winning it any awards anytime soon, it does offer something unique and new that not many games have the courage to do.
Now I’m sure you are all wondering just how Bokida – Heartfelt Reunion compares to The Witness when it comes to difficulty. Well, Bokida. thankfully isn’t as challenging as The Witness, but it does bring with it a different challenge that isn’t often seen. This challenge. which is one of the most interesting things about Bokida -is that nothing in the game really guides you, leaving you to essentially figure out all of the puzzles by yourself. There are no tutorials or even hints to guide you through completing them. If you get stuck, it’s up to you to find a solution, even if it means searching through forums and YouTube gameplays. While the puzzles are not that difficult, some have the potential to leave you questioning for several minutes on just how to complete them.
The game itself though is very minimalist, as you are tasked with only using four core mechanics throughout the entire game. While you will only be able to place blocks at first, you will quickly start unlocking more tools as you progress through the game. These tools include Build, Cut, Push, and Clean. which, as their names suggest, are pretty straight forward. To solve these puzzles, you’ll be using your build tool the most as it is essentially the core tool of the entire game. You will use this tool to solve almost every puzzle within the game, and also to reach higher locations.
Cut, the second most frequently used tool, is used to cut blocks and other objects throughout the world into specific shapes in order to bounce black lazer like beams from one puzzle piece to the next. The third and fourth tools are the least used and are almost deemed useless as the Push tool helps move blocks that you’ve placed around the world, while the clean tool removes all the blocks you’ve placed within a radius that is set by holding the mouse button.
The learning curb for Bokida is quite straight forward as the game presents you with multiple tutorials through the game. whether it’s at the beginning of the game or after unlocking a new ability, Bokida will guide you step-by-step on exactly how to use the mechanics. If you’re like me though, using a controller is a must when playing on PC however; a controller just doesn’t seem to cut it with Bokida as the level of accuracy needed for the game just doesn’t pair well with the controller. So having to go back to the days of using a mouse and keyboard – given that the game uses WASD, Spacebar and Tab – it can sometimes feel a little awkward and hard to control.
Getting around the game isn’t an easy feat either, as not only is the game extremely difficult to navigate but it is also very slow to travel around Bokida’s open world environment. Although the player does have the option to use the boost jumping and gliding feature, the process of travelling to and from different puzzle locations really seems to take an excessively large amount of time. The monochrome aesthetics also make it very difficult to find your bearings and locate new puzzles as everything looks similar. Getting lost is undoubtedly something that you will experience at some point throughout the game – a simple compass or small map would be a quick fix to this issue.
One of the first things you will notice when playing Bokida- Heartfelt Reunion is just how beautiful the game is as its monochromatic world of whites and greys really compliment the game on an overall experience. You will also occasionally find pops of colour throughout the different puzzles and environments you travel through. From its field of brightly colored low-poly trees or even the flocks of fish swimming around, it is safe to say that Bokida is currently among some of the most stunning games of 2017.
Bokida’s performance really seems to be where the game falls flat, at least on my end as it was found that the game constantly encountered performance issues. Performance issues are usually something that I tend not to mention as most of the time, they are usually quite minor and don’t ruin the overall experience, which at times seems to be the cause for Bodika. The main issues that the game suffers from are lag spikes, and constant freezing where I was often left with puzzles that aren’t able to be completed.
After narrowing down the issue, I found that the most likely caused was from too many blocks being on screen at one time or spread around the map, thankfully there is a clear all button, but the issue still seemed to linger until the game was restarted. Now, I do want to state that I am not entirely certain if the issues were caused as a result of my computer specifications which are fairly decent or simply an issue with the game itself. I checked my RAM throughout the process, but there never seemed to be an issue on my end.
Music was something that Bokida managed to knock out of the park, as the musical score of the game was nothing but superb. The relaxing tunes were an absolute pleasure to listen to and despite Rice Cooker Republic being a small indie development team, I really have to hand it to them for the excellent work they did with Bokida’s sound work and visuals as it sets them well above many titles currently on the market.
Overall, Bokida – Heartfelt Reunion offers a uniquely different and refreshing experience that not many games offer. While Bokida may be a great way to showcase what videogames can achieve, the game doesn’t come without its issues. From clunky controls, poor performance, long travel times and a rather annoying death spawning – all of these issues remain at a rather minor level without truly affecting the player experience.
With that being said, if you are in the market for an aesthetically pleasing but rather challenging open world puzzle game, then Bokida – Heartfelt Reunion is the game for you and at a price of $17.99 you simply can’t go wrong.
A PC review copy of Bokida – Heartfelt Reunion was provided by Rice Cooker Republic for the purpose of this review.