Preview: Reflections

Games that offer different gameplay as a result of earlier actions are always intriguing. It’s why Telltale Games recent series have become so popular, and why the concept has become more and more prominent in recent times. Being able to change events that happen throughout the game is always fun and makes for a game that you’ll be able to play over and over again. That is what Broken Window Studios set out to achieve with Reflections, and although it’s only in Early Access and a very limited version of the game is there to play, they seem to be hitting their targets at this early phase. The game starts off with you packing before you disappear off to university, and you’re given a box at the bottom of the stairs to fill up with various objects you can find around the house, with the caveat that you can’t take everything you find.

The good stuff

As you progress around the first map, you’ll find several activities to partake in, which range from fixing a faulty boiler to skipping stones in the lake out the back of the house – fairly mundane things maybe – but they do affect what is, in the short preview, the outcome of the game. If you spend all your time throwing rocks into the lake then you’ll get a different ending to if you choose to go around and find all your school documents before you head off to university.

Reflections has a strong artsy vibe to it, with the game starting out in monochrome, but as you play and interact with things, the world starts to colour itself in. It’s fairly well done, each time you interact with something, it starts to become slightly more coloured in. Once you have touched everything in the room, a short little jingle will sound and colour will flood the room. It doesn’t just look nice when you do it either, actually having it there acts as a marker that you’ve ‘completed’ the room and can focus your attention elsewhere, which is a pretty handy feature.

Colourful woman

I dunno, I think I preferred you in monochrome.

Improvements are needed…

There are a few troubling things that stand out, which may be a little more challenging for the developers to address: the graphics and the atmosphere. Graphics aren’t a big thing, but a lot of the game seems like it’s taken from various Unity asset stores, which in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes they don’t look like they fit in with the game. The atmosphere is a slightly less forgivable aspect, with there being little to no sound at times. Playing a game in dead silence is incredibly dull, no matter what direction they’re trying to go in. There is a record player in the game and various records scattered around the map to play on it, but the sound levels vary greatly between the rooms you’re in and, as you’d expect, go silent as soon as you’re outside the house. They’re two aspects that should be addressed in order to really perfect this game, but they may be a little more difficult to fix than the standard bugs that will crop up.

Final Word

There’s some good core concepts laid out in the game, and as it’s still in early access, it still has quite a way to go to deliver fully on its initial promise. There are a few things that could work better, sure, but the base of the game is strong and can only improve from now. If they do follow through with the development and finish the game off, then Reflections will be a fun game, but until then, it’s going to be one to watch, rather than one to play.

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