I’ll tell you what, it’s been a while since I’ve gone out of my way to find an indie game. Given how much work I find myself doing these days, that’s a massive shame; it’s always good to see what’s on the market and what your fellow developers are up to. So with it being the Steam Summer sale, I saw one game that peaked my interest: Refunct.
The minimalist trailer certainly done it justice, and showed off how simplistic the game truly is, so I’m sorry if this review is a little on the short side. Regardless of length, it’s 64p pricetag interested me so much, that I immediately downloaded the game and proceeded to play through all it had to offer.
Refunct is a parkour platformer that has you jumping across many 3D cubes on water, both to turn them green and give them life, but to also press switches across the stage to make more of these blocks appear. It sounds simple, but that’s because it is. That sentence above is the game in its entirety, and it’s bloody beautiful.
Jumping around the world feels natural and seamless, more so with an xbox controller plugged in. The controls are simple to learn; simply press RB to jump, and LB to slide, and you’re basically good to go! You’ll pick up new tricks as you progress towards revealing every single cube on the map, such as wall jumping and climbing, and everything just feels well thought out and right.
It’s even more splendid that there’s no text or tutorials in Refunct – simply start running around and the platforms you need to make your way to will teach you all you need to know. It’s charming how damns simple the game is, and has even made me rethink how I approach game design – if you can have this much fun in something so simple, do I really need to be spending ages making systems users may never use?
As you progress in pressing more switches, the platforms get harder to climb, with switches moving further and further away. Refunct has a progression so to speak, but one that doesn’t exclude anyone – the game is easily completable by anyone.
When I say completable by anyone, I truly mean it: ensuring I went out of my way to collect everything the game had to offer (e.g. touch each cube, making sure the whole world was coloured in), I completed Refunct within 25 minutes. Some may complete it even faster, and news may take a little longer. Regardless of your skill level, Refunct is short, but certainly makes an impression in it’s limited time.
Graphically, the game is pretty, and has a dynamic lighting system which blends between night and day, but at the end of the day, all you’re looking at is pretty cubes. It’s nice to look at, don’t get me wrong, but you are literally just looking at cubes, and anyone can make cubes look pretty, right?
So what more is there to say? One negative that could be thrown its way is the lack of any story, as all you’re doing is running around cubes on the water. Why are the cubes there? Why are you pressing these switches? Whilst I personally feel the lack of story is that much of a big deal, it could have helped Refunct have more staying power with players, giving them a much more memorable experience with maybe a surprise ending rather than just not knowing when you actually finished.
That’s definitely one negative in my opinion; the endgame. Once I’d coloured everything in and pressed every button, I proceeded to run around the map changing the colours of all the cubes for fun. Thinking this was a new mode, or a new section of the game I ran around the environment for 5-10 minutes, wondering if anything would happen. Pressing start eventually, I found that nope, I had 100% the game, meaning my wondering around was for nothing. The end of the game could have definitely been choreographed better, that’s for certain.
So all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Refunct. It may be simplistic, and short, but it certainly left an impression, and has made me think about how I create games myself. Should you have a spare half an hour, and want to enjoy yourself for that entire time, you can’t go wrong with Refunct.