Switch version tested
Review code provided
Reed Remastered is one of those games where dying repeated times has you telling yourself you’ll be putting it down in a minute and playing later when you’re in a better frame of mind. Yet you don’t. Instead, you die a handful of times more in quick succession, make it to the next level and rinse and repeat.
I wouldn’t say that Reed Remastered is a game that I couldn’t put down because I loved it so much, more so because I was so determined to make a mark on my progress and not feel defeated by the intelligent level design. Just as you think you’ve got a level sussed, you’re killed by something you overlooked, having to restart the level once more. That’s right; you respawn on death in a manner most will be familiar with, like Super Meat Boy.
At first, I thought I had the wrong game as I couldn’t understand what was happening as the introduction was incoherent. Still, before long, I was straight into the game, playing this space-age cat hopping over pyramid-like spikes and avoiding numerous projectiles. The goal is simple: collect an artefact from each level (a combination of the parts you scavenge in Fez, mixed with the puzzle box from the Hellraiser series), this opens a doorway, and you jump to the next level.
As for the plot, it’s relatively simple. There’s a supercomputer that has created a digital world that is on its decay. In order to counter the inevitable doom, the supercomputer creates Reed to go in and retrieve these Hellraiser cubes of data so that it can rebuild from the ground up. I hasten to add, they aren’t called Hellraiser cubes (The Lament Configuration), but it would be pretty cool, right?
Each level is relatively short, but the key is timing. A few times, I used the knucklehead approach and attempted to speed through each level, but it simply doesn’t work. You have to get your timing more or less perfect as there aren’t any real openings otherwise. Don’t misunderstand thinking Reed Remastered is unplayable – it’s as tough as pinning a milkshake to the wall in places. Still, at the same times, it’s not as deviant as some of the user-create Super Mario Maker 2 levels in the ether.
Let’s break down a typical example. You spawn at the start of the level, run and jump on to and over some disappearing platforms (spikes are decorated underneath to catch you, should you fall), retrace your steps back to a platform that takes you up a level. After a few deaths, you think you have it in the bag when a projectile comes flying at you just after you get off the lift and boom: back to the start. Getting back to the lift again, you jump off the platform, clear each projectile, though an enemy is heading your way, so you jump on top of their head to immobilise them, that launches you back into the air, getting impaled by the projectile once more. You get back to this point again, time your jump, get past the enemy, but in your haste land on a spike you hadn’t noticed before. This kind of scenario happens a lot, and in a masochistic sort of way, a lot of fun.
So, how does it play? Remarkably well. The controls are pretty tight and accurate; you need to be able to guide your cat mid-air to get the perfect landing, and the controls are very responsive – if they weren’t, this game wouldn’t stand a chance as the traps are sadistic – in a good way. But trust me, you’ll go through a mixture of emotions: sometimes you’ll smirk at how cruel the developer, PXLink, is. Other times you’ll be pinpointing the best spot on the wall to throw the controller…until reason kicks in, and you tell yourself this won’t beat you. It’ll only make you stronger. Well, that was my inner monologue.
The visual style comes across as a mixture of Forager and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth though the colours are a little more subtle and are a tad like the Team17 games back-in-the-day that made the most of grey and purple hues. Reed Remastered has a pixelated aesthetic to it, and to be honest, works perfectly for the game. While it won’t be setting the game world alight with something we’ve never seen before, it’s a decent approach, and the soundtrack is a fitting complement to the game also.
Reed Remastered is a classic platform game through and through: everything is about timing and positioning Reed both with the jumps mid-air and also when landing too. The number of times you’ll misjudge whether you will land on a spike or not will be so common, you’d expect muscle memory to kick in, and you can ace it, but like a very twisted Groundhog Day, you’ll mostly repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Once you do ‘get it’ and move on to the next area, it’s the same once again.
There are the odd stages that you might be able to complete in the first go. Once in a while there are stages tucked in that are relatively easy compared to its predecessors that give you the false confidence that you’re good at the game or that little lifeline not to give up just yet. However, do expect the levels to get increasingly more difficult as you progress. As mentioned, they aren’t unplayable, but there are times where you have to be perfect with your timing and controls as there isn’t any room for error.
With over 50 levels, to say how long this will take you will depend on your skill level and of course, patience. While you die a lot but respawn in a heartbeat, there will be a limit on how long you can play it per sitting. In theory, most levels can be done in under a minute. Still, it’s learning the location of each object, and the timings with enemies and projectiles – you’re going to have to apply a trial and error method before you can finish it. On the upside, you don’t get the same replay of your deaths like you do in Super Meat Boy as if you do; you could be watching these highlights for some time!
Reed Remastered is another quality platform game that is perfect for the Switch. Sure, it’s not an exclusive, but with the flurry of stages and the style of gameplay, this is ideal on-the-go, only if in public, make sure you don’t ‘lose it’ as you will die in this game. A lot.
TBG Score: 8/10
Platform: Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 14/02/2020
No. of Players: 1
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Download link: eShop