Monday, June 10

Review: Refunct [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While simplicity can work well in games, the results aren’t always for everyone. Granted, there are more than enough titles out there that can feel like a slog as you work through tutorials and introductions that seem to last forever, but going in completely the opposite direction and dropping you into gameplay with no instruction whatsoever can be jarring too. That’s where you’ll find yourself in the serene but very short Refunct.

The emphasis in the game is on pretty basic 3D platforming, jumping from place to place and grabbing ledges to get yourself to new spots. Looking for beacons of red light in this collection of stone pillars of various heights over water you’ll work to get to each one, which will then reveal another for you to find and so on. For the most part, that’s it. There’s no fear of death, fall damage, you won’t drown, just figure out how to use what’s available to you in the environment to get to each new place and then do the same with the next one.

What bugs me a little bit though is that there are also little cubes strewn about as well that you can collect, seemingly as an added challenge. While I appreciate their presence, and would try to find them and figure out how to get them as well, their presence with no explanation or clear purpose actually annoyed me a bit. With there being so little to the game as a whole tying it all together even a little bit would have been nice. I don’t need an elaborate narrative but even some simple sense of purpose would have been nice to make the experience a bit more fulfilling.

What you have in the end is an experience that’s pleasant and pretty mellow but ultimately quite short and hollow. With titles like Abzu and others the lack of much gameplay is compensated for by a pretty amazing overall experience that delights the senses. With Refunct that seems like the sort of thing it is aspiring to but there’s just not that degree of creativity, diversity, or inspiration, it’s just nice but flat on pretty well every front. While Refunct is fine for what it seemed to have set out to do the lack of ambition and meat on its bones make it tough to recommend with much enthusiasm.

Score: 6

  • A low-budget price
  • In general it’s a pleasant and serene experience

  • Extremely short
  • Not terribly challenging
  • Lacking in substance and inspiration, it just sort of “is”