Death is something we all have to go through, and the Grim Reaper has been a concept throughout history to illustrate the mysterious figure that delivers demise. It's a dark and mysterious concept, but Kong Orange has put the fun in funeral with Felix the Reaper, providing a much more light-hearted take on the concept of death personified as part of a charming puzzler on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.
You see, Felix the Reaper isn't your usual reaper, as he's a little... different than most. At the beginning of the game we're told by the narrator, our boss, that our behaviour has made some of the other reapers uncomfortable, but what could possible make an agent of death feel awkward and uneasy? Dancing, of course.
Yes, Felix is a larger-than-life death-bringer that loves to boogie, which is why he wears headphones on all of his ventures to the mortal world. It might not be the most conventional way to dispatch human life, but it's the way he likes, and as you go you'll see him bust all kinds of shapes as he moves around to the beat.
Felix the Reaper is actually a puzzle game, which might not have been your first guess when hearing the premise. You're tasked with getting mortals into deadly positions, but there are actually a variety of tasks to do that aren't just about directly getting someone to meet their maker.
The levels are split into grids that you have to walk around, and your objective might be to set a barrel on fire, or move a dog to a certain position. Of course, at its heart, it's still about killing people, but this is more of a background narrative than the central plot, as you're mostly engaging with other elements like the mechanics within the level. In this way the plot is kept from being overly morbid.
We're also distracted from the mortality because of the comedy involved as well. As if a huge, dancing reaper wasn't enough to defuse this, the colourful cast of characters also helps as well, since they're all funny and absurd in their design, especially your love interest, who we're introduced to at the beginning of the game. The notebook animations in the levels epitomise this perfectly, as they're all weird and quirky in their own way.
While Felix the Reaper is described as a "romantic comedy", we wouldn't actually say that romance is that prevalent for the most part. It's another underlying theme, but the storytelling is more about the characters which are the subjects of the level, rather than Felix's own personal journey to love or death or whatever it may be.
That said, when Felix's personal journey does come to the surface, it is a very sweet tale of someone who isn't dark or broody enough for the role assigned to him. He's too cheerful to be taking the lives of these people, and all he wants to do is be connected to the one he loves at the Ministry of Life, because he feels alive himself.
Alas, though, he is not alive, and that's why the sunlight hurts him. This is an important fact, because this dictates where you can and cannot go in the levels, since you cannot step on a tile that's not in the shade.
This means you'll have to rotate between two perspectives, with the sun shining at alternate 90-degree angles, and this changes where you can go. You'll also need to move items to create patches of shade, and this becomes a real mind-boggler in the later levels, since you'll always need to think about the perspectives during both viewpoints and how they'll affect the shade in the level.
It's a thoroughly unique concept though, and one we enjoyed playing around with. It's not just about moving and creating shade though, as there are other elements like warp pipes and switches to interact with as well, giving you even more to think about when you're trying to work out how to complete the given objective in a level.
It's a very forgiving game though. We don't mean the puzzles themselves, because they can be brutally difficult and hard to get your head around, but there are buttons on the menu to show where the final objective is, and what the next step is. Also, if you've gotten yourself confused and in a pickle, you can always reload your last checkpoint too, trying another avenue of exploration.
That said, those who really like a challenge can try to not get caught in the sun at all, and there are a whole load of stats to check out once the level is over, so you can try to get the best score possible. There are also Achiever and Bonus Challenges to aim for as well, which need to be unlocked by performing well in all of the levels.
Considering Felix's musical background, it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that the music is excellent in Felix the Reaper, and there's a real mix in there, all of which you can adjust yourself. The titular character is pretty silent, but that doesn't matter when there are so many nice tunes to jam to, none of which ever prove too invasive and annoying.
Pretty much everything about Felix the Reaper is unique, and the whole package is a breath of fresh air. From Felix's dancing to the puzzle's using light and dark, we had a lot of fun on the journey, even when we got stuck and were left scratching our heads wondering what to do. It's a perfect fit for the Switch as well, and we'd recommend it not only to fans of puzzle games, but for those looking for that hidden gem to get stuck into.
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