Have you ever really wanted to decide what colours to paint a house and then actually paint? Have you ever had a very strong desire to take the time to fix the plumbing for your kitchen sink in a digital world? Or maybe you just really wanted to go to a local pond and skip stones? All of these things and more can be your reality in Broken Windows Studios' upcoming game, Reflections. We got to spend a little time with an unfinished version of the title and we came away very much impressed with what we experienced.
What exactly is Reflections? Well, it's a first-person game that technically could be called a puzzle-based experience. Things like the aforementioned fixing the plumbing involve finding the correct pieces of pipe and putting them in the right spots. The puzzling mechanics don't seem to be terribly deep, but they don't really need to be either. The most enjoyable aspect of the game is colourizing everything. The game environments begin as almost exclusively monochromatic, and as you interact with items and objects, the world gains colour. It makes for some remarkably striking visuals, as the vibrant colour palette really pops paired with the black and white. The game loosely has objectives to pursue, but honestly, we might have had more fun simply going around and trying to colourize as much of the playable environment as we could.
There does seem to be a light narrative element to the game as well, though. The title adapts to how players decide to play, so feasibly there exists a widely varied number of possibilities for how the game will progress. Everything you do – or don't do – is logged and helps shape how the game progresses. Much of what we encountered was conveyed through text, and a couple of the passages that we read actually delivered a pretty substantial emotional wallop, all the more impressive considering we only really saw what amounts to an outline of a narrative. Some of the narrative highlighted significant and bitter-sweet moments in life – such as departing home to attend college – and others were broader, such as something as simple as the passage of time, and the speed at which everything seems to pass you by.
At the end of our time with the title, we felt like we were playing a game that conveyed the experience of life, albeit in a microcosmic, abbreviated manner. Something about getting to play through some of the mundanities of life, such as fixing a broken sink or moving to college, rather than living them is immensely relaxing. This could partially be down to having personally experienced those events prior to playing the game, so going through them again with hindsight brings a sense of calm to events that might otherwise have been frantic. Another reason we could have come away from the events with a greater sense of calm could stem from the game's beautiful, moving piano score.
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows, though: we encountered our fair share of bugs, too. The item manipulation has some physics-based issues that will most likely be ironed out before the game's final release, so it's not something that we came away terribly concerned about. That being said, even with these little issues, the number of things that we came away liking vastly outweigh those that we didn't like. There exists a very real possibility of getting lost amid the game's beautiful environments and vibrant colour palette when the title releases on PS4 later this year.
Will you be reflecting on Reflections when it rolls out on the PS4? Colour the comments section with your thoughts below.