I have a six-year-old son who loves video games. I am very fortunate to be able to review games, and my son loves watching me play. In some cases, he loves to try games out, which helps me look at different perspectives in my review. I was curious about his thoughts when I began to play Felix the Reaper. After all, he was sold on the premise almost immediately after seeing Felix dancing through the trailers. Of course, we both found out quickly that Felix the Reaper is a unique puzzle game that wasn’t as kid-friendly as I imagined.
Please understand that this is not a weakness of the game. I loved how different it felt from other puzzle games that I have played. I guess I wasn’t expecting it to be that unique. I probably should have known, however. The game features a Grim Reaper who dances and listens to all kinds of groovy tunes. But despite the tunes, he still is a Reaper. And Grim Reapers bring death. As blood splattered the screen during the tutorial, my son looked at me and said: “well, I wasn’t expecting that!”
Its unique premise is a positive aspect of the game. Felix the Reaper works as a Minister of Death while longing for the love of his life who works for the Ministry of Life. It’s a fascinating beginning of the story that is enhanced by the wonderful narration of Patrick Stewart. But the game’s story takes a backseat to the daily tasks of Felix. We don’t ever get a satisfying conclusion to the story. The developers are undoubtedly setting up further adventures for Felix, but I wanted a conclusion instead of a cliffhanger.
The game’s puzzles are the main attraction in Felix the Reaper. Felix’s main job is to set the stage for the ultimate demise of Felix’s target. Each stage requires Felix to move objects in place that set in motion the intricate death of Felix’s target. Each stage has several puzzle areas that need to be solved before you are treated to an entertaining cutscene that shows the elaborate death that Felix has carried out.
Felix carries out his deathly mission by moving in specific motions horizontally and vertically on the map. He can pick up objects and place them in designated areas. As a dealer of death, his main enemy is the sunlight. Felix must stay in the dark at all times. To do this, he can move to areas that create shade. Permanent environmental objects like trees and buildings create shade that he can stay in. Or, he can move objects like barrels into strategic places to move. If shade isn’t immediately available, then he can activate a sundial that moves the position of the sun and create shade in other areas.
The sun is an unforgiving enemy. If you move the sun and you are exposed to the light, then the sun immediately moves back to its previous position. You can guess where the shade will be, but that is not always the best strategy. Instead, you can click a button command that will give you a preview of where the shade will be if you move the sun. Then, you can plan your next steps. Or, if the puzzle is too challenging, you can click on the hint button in the menus and get an idea of where you should go and where you should place objects.
In theory, these mechanics are not hard to master and you can get through each level. But the game has goals for you, and that’s where it gets very hard. After you complete an area, it will show your objectives and if you completed them. Most of these objectives require you to complete the level at a specific time or moving a specific amount of steps. It even tracks how many times you pick up and drop an object.
If you are a completionist, you will find that these objectives are very hard to complete, especially on your first attempt at the game. You can always replay an area and try to meet every objective. There is even a harder difficulty setting if you choose to try it. But as is, it is extremely hard to match the goals on your first try. This does add some replayability to the game, especially if you want a better score.
One thing I did not like is the rigid movement of Felix. He can move up and down or left and right. You can’t move diagonally. You also can’t pick up objects that might be diagonal to you. I wish you had that option because it would have matched the free-flowing and dancing personality of Felix. For someone who loves to move, I don’t like that he couldn’t move as freely as needed. If anything, it just adds to the challenge.
Besides the unique premise, Felix the Reaper is also unique in its style. The character design can be a little offputting, but still clever and unique. The colors have a hint of morbid dread. The design aspect that works really well is music. All of the songs in the soundtrack have unique qualities that match with various music genres. The game switches songs at each level, or you can pick your favorite at the menu screen. And Felix moves with such grace no matter which song you pick.
Felix the Reaper might not be for everyone. The mechanics are easy to figure out, but meeting the objectives is very challenging. It’s also very much a game about death. However, Felix is someone that is easy to root for. His dancing personality and the use of the game’s soundtrack are highlights. If you are in the market for a challenging puzzle game, then Felix the Reaper that is a unique game that is worth trying.
Note: GameOctane editor Ryan Welch received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Unique puzzle mechanics
Might be too challenging for some players