FRACTER (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 27.10.2019

Review for FRACTER on PC

The puzzle genre is limitless in a way that other genres aren't. A puzzle title can be whatever it wants to be, so long as it engages its audience intellectually. FRACTER opts for the ever reliable adventure game approach, scattering puzzles over an interconnected world. Where the title differentiates, however, is in its presentation. For as traditional as FRACTER might come off at first glance, it's a moodier, thought-provoking title intent on taking as much advantage out of the puzzle genre as possible.

While FRACTER is ultimately a puzzler, it's hard to ignore just how much of a role stealth ends up playing in the core gameplay loop. Not only do puzzles need to be solved on the fly, enemies start patrolling areas, ready to chase the player at a moment's notice. As the whole experience takes place in a pitch black void with great platforms and only a few white lights to illuminate the way, there's quite a bit of naturally built tension active most of the time. Good atmosphere is by no means rare, but seldom does it elevate a title so much. With an ominous soundtrack lingering in the background, the image of a pure white figure waltzing across a black background becomes something surreal. The art style pairs with the music to create a tone that's deceptively therapeutic.

Despite the in-game content itself being relatively tame, there's a creepiness to the presentation that never quite goes away. If anything, the oppressive tone only worsens at the journey progresses. Puzzles become harder, enemies start to get more aggressive. Where stealth was once easy enough to pull off, defencelessly hiding from a foe becomes nerve wracking. At the same time, the difficulty never feels unfair.

In any title where most of the challenge is cerebral, the play-through's pace will be more or less dictated by the players themselves. For FRACTER, that's ultimately a plus all around. While later puzzles demand focus and attention to detail, earlier ones can be brute forced - which isn't to say they're poorly designed. Not at all. It's just that the difficulty curve isn't designed around actively punishing audiences. There's plenty of time for players to learn what's expected of them before puzzles start to get too hard.

Screenshot for FRACTER on PC

It perhaps goes without saying, but all this results in a slower paced, more methodical experience. Although tapping Shift triggers a run, Ctrl slows things down to a sneak. Both are going to need to be used wisely and often to survive some of the later stealth based encounters. Not just that, patience plays a key role in staying alive. As the survival horror elements get harsher, running at the wrong time can be a death sentence.

Players aren't totally defenceless, though. Certain monoliths can be interacted with on the overworld. By moving them with the mouse, they can shoot out beams of light that can form walls to block enemies, or even vaporize them outright. These monoliths are usually the main tool used for puzzle solving as well. When they're not in play, pressure sensitive switches tend to take their role.

While this might not leave much room for creative puzzle design, that's actually where FRACTER thrives most. Every concept is stretched about as thin as it can be without any welcomes being worn. Although this does result in a title that can be comfortably completed in less than three hours, it's ultimately for the best, as all the puzzle solving wouldn't be nearly as well paced. Puzzle genre veterans might find that the difficulty curve takes too long to get going, but FRACTER is bound to impress otherwise.

Screenshot for FRACTER on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Although undeniably on the short side, it's hard to ignore just how much solid content FRACTER packs into its short length. With only lines of poetry to guide the way, the title's dark aesthetic, and ethereal soundtrack, offers audiences a puzzle experience that's genuinely unique. The difficulty curve gradually increases, offering minor challenges before throwing some pretty intimidating puzzles in the last few levels. With some well-incorporated stealth elements, it all makes for a well paced experience that never outstays its welcome. That FRACTER pulls everything off with so much style and substance is just a bonus.

Also known as

FRACTER

Developer

4L GAMES LTD.

Publisher

4L GAMES LTD.

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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