Atmospheric puzzle game FRACTER has arrived on Android a day ahead of its scheduled July 13th release date. The game mixes together puzzle, adventure and horror elements to create what might be described as a hybrid of Playdead’s Limbo and ustwo Games’ Monument Valley series.
Players step into the shoes of a young woman as she begins to explore a pitch black labyrinth. As she journeys through the dark maze she will need to solve puzzles by rotating, raising, or otherwise manipulating various objects and lighting up switches.
The darkness of the labyrinth hides more than just a few puzzles, it also hides some dangerous creatures that look to put an end to the young heroine’s journey (or at least send her back to the previous checkpoint). Mechanically these creatures can sometimes resemble the bird people in Monument Valley, though they may give chase if players get too close, and are often a part of the game’s puzzles as players need to find a way to advance while avoiding these shadow creatures.
Broken down into multiple levels, each of the game’s stages features a multitude of puzzles and dangers as players try to find each lost part of the game’s hero. In lieu of a tutorial, the game’s puzzles start of incredibly simple but before long they start to get more complex and require some thought. Players will sometimes need to figure out what they need to do as much as how they need to do it as objectives are not always entirely clear. That can be a bug or a feature depending on how much you enjoy experimentation.
As much as it is about the puzzles, FRACTER is also focused on creating an atmospheric gameplay experience. From the monochromatic graphics to the brilliance of the slivers of light that shine through the darkness, the game creates a gloomy experience that leaves players unsure of what might be around the next corner. That’s where some of the game’s horror elements come in. Although the room might hide a simple puzzle to solve or better yet a hero part, it can also hide a few of the labyrinth’s dangerous creatures. That creates a bit of wonderful tension as creeping into each room becomes preferable to barreling through the stage.
The sense of danger is diminished somewhat by the lack of consequences associated with being caught by one of the game’s creatures. Players simply stumble a bit in the darkness and are then sent back to the last checkpoint which is rarely too far back.
Overall FRACTER is an interesting experience that’s easy to recommend to fans of Monument Valley, Limbo, and some of the other atmospheric adventure games released over the years. It might not have the original elements or outstanding features that would have it go down as a classic, but it does offer an atmospheric puzzle experience that’s not frequently found on mobile devices. At the same time players who don’t value atmosphere in their are unlikely to have their minds changed by FRACTER. While its puzzles are strong enough to stand on their own, FRACTER truly shines for those that appreciate the tension created by the gloomy mood, soundtrack, and the simple but well executed monochromatic graphics.
FRACTER is $3.99 and does not contain any ads or in app purchases.
Interested? Check out the puzzle game on Google Play.