Before looking under the hood, I would say that Felix The Reaper, developed by Kong Orange is a nicely presented game. If you’re going to say that you take into account the gameplay, narrative or control system when first choosing a game, then you’re likely the type of person to say you like a nice smile. Oh, how you lie. I’m keeping it real – it was the looks and apparent puzzle-like gameplay that reeled me in.
Felix The Reaper is a bona fide puzzle game, so it’s exactly how it appeared, and how the gameplay was portrayed. If that’s not your thing, then it’s unlikely that this game will change your mind. For everyone else who likes to test the old grey matter, or just wants something different to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare then read on. Let’s start with the premise.
We’re looking at a modern-day Romeo and Juliet. Felix, the reaper of the title, works for the Ministry of Death. He’s clocked the local hottie named Betty and wants to woo her with his dance skills. Alas, she works for the Ministry of Life – there’s no way that ebony and ivory could be together in this here scenario. Being a maverick, Felix takes on the role as a field reaper – he’s basically a bailiff, but the only asset he’ll take is your life. Well, not your life, but the third party characters in the game. It’s all a ploy to get the woman of his dream and embrace her with his footwork.
Never have I seen a more masculine alpha walk than when I made a brew this morning, but Felix really does have some moves. I thought he was just a bit flashy with his hips – someone who works well with watercolours, but it’s not his walk – he dances across the screen. This isn’t death meets Just Dance, but just Felix bearing his own soul through his love of dance. Now I expect you to be reaching for the bucket now as it’s sounding a little too fluffy. It’s not. The nature of the game is to reap souls – the end goal is an afterthought. In some respects, it’s rather dark. Which I quite like.
After a beautifully illustrated cutscene with emphasis on tell in the ‘show, don’t tell’ expression (narrated by Gandalf – sorry, Picard, Sir Patrick Stewart), we get our first tutorial: move the cursor and click on two or three paces away. The game area is tile-based, and the playable zones hover in space. You can’t click on any area that is lightly coloured as it is affected by the sun and as a vampire… ok, I missed that bit as was ignoring the tutorial as we all do. All I knew is I couldn’t walk on the light tiles, but you can manipulate a sundial that changes the way shadows are cast on the floor. Press L1 or R1 to switch. It’s a little like Fez. Well, kinda.
So what do you do in Felix The Reaper? Well, you navigate around each map and put your victims in a sticky situation – i.e. in the path of impending doom, a.k.a. death. But most of the time, it’s a case of moving objects about to get there in the first place. All the while, Felix spins, twerks and trots. It’s like a camp Final Destination. Get your victim into the destined point of impact, step back and watch the glorious goriest death cutscene. The fatalities mixed with dancing is quite the concoction, but it’s an adult puzzle game. It doesn’t masquerade as anything else.
I love the art style – from the sketchbook loading screens, digitally painted cutscenes and the animation in the actual game. Felix does move just a bit too much. I understand it’s the concept, but it’s a little annoying and somewhat distracting. If it’s done for comedic effect, it soon wears off, and it looks like he’s having uncontrollable spasms rather than dancing. Not that I’m an authority. But, considering the music, his sporadic moves make sense. I wasn’t a fan as found it a little too repetitive and lacking any hooks for me to take notice. A licenced Prodigy track or the like wouldn’t have gone a miss. Yeah I know I’m being picky. And old. Is Justin Bieber still popular?
There isn’t a timer for the puzzles, it’s mostly trial and error, but you do get appraised at the end of each section – usually by how much time has passed. But, who’s counting? Other factors include how many times you rotated the sundial (L1/R1), how many moves you made and the number of times caught by the sun. Being caught by the sun doesn’t mean game over, you just can’t move any further until you retreat into the shadows. Also, from this evaluation from the Ministry of Death at the end of each level is the option to replay the level, cutscene and the ‘Hardcore Elite Reaper Trainee Version’. A hard difficulty mode? Err… no. I feel smart enough having sussed out the last puzzle. Let’s move on.
Felix The Reaper is presented in chapters, each with their own smaller segments to complete. They all link together to form an overall goal, mostly in fast-tracking their way to heaven/hell/miscellaneous. I have to say that as with most puzzles, you’ll feel like a bit of a pleb once you have the solution. The challenges are pretty easy most of the time, but my problem was deciphering what I needed to do rather than how to do it. If you press options, you will have a menu that offers up a hint or indicate where you are supposed to go next. I just wanted to finish the game first of all so not bothered about my performance, but some of the hints didn’t help. A lot of the time it is a case of picking up one object, moving it over there, pick up the next, then backtrack to pick up the first. You can balls up sometimes, but there’s another feature that allows you to review back to a checkpoint of sorts. I did this a lot, but probably needn’t have used it so much.
If you’re observant, you’ll notice some usernames on the menu as well. This is actually a leaderboard that you can refer to and see where you rank in the world. I like that this isn’t in your face so I could comfortably ignore it. Ignorant in thinking I’m really good at the game when in fact lots of other players are doing it in half the moves I do. Whatever. It was intentional; I was working on my own dance moves to use in real life.
My niggles were the incessant dancing, mediocre music and the loading screens. However, none of them was enough to make me want to throw the controller at the wall and listen to Slayer for a few hours on loop. Actually, that’s not a bad thing. To be honest, there wasn’t that much I didn’t like about Felix The Reaper and was pleasantly surprised how enjoyable it could be. Puzzle games aren’t necessarily my bag, but I’m a massive fan of Catherine (the game. I’m no stalker). Outside of the gameplay, the story in Catherine tied everything together and was a great experience. The story in Felix The Reaper, by comparison, is a little weak, and you’re reminded by Sir Patrick Stewart to not think so much about Betty. I wasn’t, but it’s reverse psychology: I was making myself a sandwich, and she was all I could think about, rather than the gouda.
Felix The Reaper PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7/10
For puzzle fans, it’s pretty good and overall quite an enjoyable game. However, it won’t appeal to the masses as you can’t directly shoot stuff in the face and instead rely on problem-solving skills. A little samey, but a good one for you puzzlers.
- Beautiful character designs and presentation
- Requires a bit of logical application
- Easily accessible – controls are intuitive
- Puzzles seem simple once solved, but sometimes a little unclear on what to do
- The story seems a bit surplus to the gameplay
- Uninspiring music considering Felix’s energetic dancing
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.