Secrets of Rætikon

Secrets of Rætikon/Ratikon/Raetikon? is a stylistic, artistic 2D indie game. People have referred to it as Metroidvania-style, or possibly even like an open world Ecco the Dolphin but instead of being a dolphin swimming around you are a little polygonal bird. This is pretty apt, the flight mechanics actually feel pretty similar to the swimming mechanics of Ecco. In case you somehow have escaped the term “Metroidvania,” it generally means a game like Castlevania Symphony of the Night or any of the ones that keep coming out for Nintendo handhelds. Secrets of Rætikon is only really like that in terms of the fact that it’s a 2D open world game. There are no items and there is no leveling up and there are no RPG elements, but you can technically go anywhere from the beginning without completing any objectives I guess so there’s that- in other words it’s not really Metroidvania at all.

The game has a minimalist soundtrack and it is unobtrusive. It looks very nice, but simplistic, 2D-polygon-type style can actually get kind of confusing. Sometimes I picked up objects without even knowing what they were. A lot of things end up looking kind of the same and it’s a little hard to figure out what is a friendly bird and what is a rock. Gameplay basically consists of flying around, exploring, and collecting stuff. If you like listening to an ambient soundtrack while just sort of cruising around on the jetstream, well then you will probably like this game. There’s not a ton else going on. There’s no attack button but you can get evil birds to fly into spike thorn walls or something, I was very unsuccessful but it’s allegedly possible.

In general, Secrets of Rætikon/Raetikon is one of those “experience” indie games. You play it for the experience. The gameplay isn’t amazing on its own, but the combination of the gentle soundtrack, really pretty visuals, responsive controls, and its exploration based mechanics all fit together to give you a unique experience. That’s what’s great about indie games these days. Some of them are all shitty gameplay and nice graphics, some of them are great gameplay and terrible graphics. Some have it all. But either way they allow for some complete, unique experiences and this game is no exception.

Secrets of Rætikon/Raetikon is currently on sale for $4.99 which is 50% off. It’s only a few hours long and at this price it is probably more than a dollar an hour. The game is beautiful and interesting but I never really felt compelled to keep playing. If ambient, relaxing games are your thing, pick it up. Otherwise, Verdict: Skip it.

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