Bokida: Heartfelt Reunion Review – Visuals to fall in love with
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Rice Cooker Republic
Release: 17th May 2017
Disclaimer: Review Code provided by Rice Cooker Republic
When I saw Bokida: Heartfelt Reunion for the first time I didn´t know what to think about it, a minimalistic, Open World Puzzler about planetary love made by a developer called Rice Cooker Republic. After a bit of classic research, I discovered, Bokida is actually the full version of a vision, which began as a student project. And so, we gathered here, to find out if this vision was worth the effort or just as silly as a Republic of Rice Cookers.
As said before, Bokida is all about love and reunion of two planets, which were seperated but wish to be together again. We, the messenger, are now sent to the white planet tofullfill their wish by strengthening the bond between those two again. Yet, the more you progress through the game, the more hints about another storyline you gather, revealing the past of a forgotten civilization, that once lived on the planets.
Story-wise Bokida offers quite a lot to discover in its 4-5 hour long, besides the rather simple “main” story. On every corner you can discover different and mysterious messages, unraveling more and more of the hidden sub-plot. The fact, Bokida never tells you anything in clear words and tries to hide a meaning behind every sentence you read, force you to think about the things you read, to comprehend the world. Obviously, the told story isn´t particularly deep or great but it can successfully carry this puzzler and world, by being as mysterious as the rest of the game, offering an additional mystery to solve, if you want to understand the meaning of everything.
To fulfill our role as a messenger and connect these two planets again, we travel through the open world of Bokida to activate the four monoliths, strengthening their connection. Due to its silent nature, Bokida won´t give you a map or objectives but completly focuses on invoking your interest for the world and places, through a diverse and interesting world. While the monoliths are quite easy to find, you´re also offered a wide variety of “side” places, that only exist to exist. From stone circles, to giant cliffs, Bokida´s world is diverse and huge, offering an interesting place to explore. Unfortunately, the biggest problem of the world lies in its size, it´s just too huge and too empty, without a relevant reward for all your effort. During your journey you will often face empty plains between the different areas, that are neither interesting nor a joy to travel through. If you make the effort to spend some minutes exploring this oversized creation, the only reward you´ll be granted are little black spheres, which unlock something for the patient ones, who manage to collect all 67 of them.
Yet, the most important part of a Puzzler are its puzzles, obviously, and Bokida certainly offers some interesting gameplay. With the ability to build, cut, push or even delete blocks, along with a wide array of additional moves, I expected quite a lot diversity, especially because it has some really cool physics. Sadly, Bokida disappoints to a certain degree in this department as well, by recycling the same puzzle in every chapter. Right at the beginning, you will encounter a puzzle based on reflecting light rays, by cutting your block in the right shape. What seemed fun at first glance, quickly became the most recycled puzzle and a frustrating game of precision. Of course, there are really cool and creative ones as well, however I can´t quite understand, why they had to recycle this one particular puzzle so often in such a short game, especially because it isn´t fun after the 2nd time. On the other hand, no puzzle actually challenges you or asks you to use all your abilities, often you will just need the build and cut tool, leaving the rest untouched for the whole game. Bokida gives you so many abilities during the story but none of them is necessary to progress. The puzzles are fun and cool but not really good designed, considering, that they always stay at the same level. At least, it´s fun to play with the physics and blocks.
Luckily Bokida can impress with its minimalistic visuals and unique presentation. I love simple visuals, which can convey the story and atmosphere solely through the most basic methods, Bokida nails it. The world you will discover can successfully convey the desired relaxed and calm atmosphere, while also being mysterious, interesting and unique. Throughout your journey Bokida manages to surprise me every single time with impressing new places or great designs. Mixed with its black and white theme, Bokida offers so many memorable moments and designs, that I just can´t hate it, even tho the white scheme is a bit too dominant sometimes. On the other hand the soundtrack is also pretty good and perfectly underlines the calm atmosphere but tends to repeat itself very quickly, since the tracks aren´t very long.
All in all Bokida: Heartfelt Reunion offers some really cool and promising puzzle aspects, like the various way to play with blocks but fails at properly utilizing them in its puzzles. The few good puzzles it offers are overshadowed by the huge amount of recycling for such a short game and it never feels like the puzzles Bokida deserved. Yet I still like it, due to its minimalistic world and interesting story, the funny phsyics and artstyle, but without said visuals or unique presentation, I don´t know if I could recommended it.
So, it depends on you, if you´re into the things you saw and read.