Reknum is an interesting game filled with nostalgia and platforming. A trip back into the old days somewhere between the NES and SNES eras. Filled with tough platforming, a pretty nice soundtrack, and some really weird bombs.
Reknum is the tale of an adventure loving princess who sets out to defeat the evil sorceress that has sealed the world within crystal balls and is draining the power out of them. Or at least that’s what the opening cutscene indicated, but you would be forgiven if you either forget about this or come up with some other storyline after seeing the character sprites for both the princess and sorceress.
Gameplay in Reknum is rather basic, you move in a 2D side-scrolling environment while either swinging a large sword or shooting a bow at enemies. There are treasure chests filled with gems around each stage you go through, and collecting increments of 500 gems will give you maobility upgrades, such as enhanced jump, speed increase, or a double (ish) jump. Unfortunately these upgrades are lost not only on death, but also every time you complete a stage, making them less useful than you’d probably appreciate. That’s pretty much it for basic controls, which is good if the goal was for a retro feeling style game.
What isn’t as great are some of the design choices. First up, let’s talk about “autobombs”. After you progress through an area, depending on the stage exit you leave from, you will go to a different area. Some of these are blocked off by autobombs that will only allow access to new areas if you take a particular exit out of another area. But be warned, if you try and use another entrance/exit as a checkpoint, that gets overwritten, forcing you to redo stages to get back to a spot where the autobomb had activated. Since I mentioned checkpoints just now, you should be aware that the game doesn’t really have checkpoints, or lives. Minus on the one, plus on the other I suppose.
No checkpoints mean some of the longer and more infuriating stages (soul labyrinth). My biggest issue with this game actually cropped up in said soul labyrinth. I found that while on a moving platform, or even some stationary platforms, I would occasionally lose my jump. Couple this with the fact that the moving platforms can squash you and instant kill you, as well as enemies knocking you back like 50 feet every time they blow on you too hard and the game can get super frustrating. On the plus side, no lives basically means you just restart the stage when you die, and none of them are all that long. Honestly, I think I finished Reknum in under an hour, but that’s probably more due to my familiarity with the style of gameplay.
The bosses that pop up at the end of a stage are also somewhat guilty of this, as the projectile attacks seem to all be instant kills, which can get pretty frustrating until you realise the bow is surprisingly good at keeping the bosses away from you. The stages are rather short, but they are all different with different enemies and aren’t simple palette swaps. The graphics are pretty decent, and there is a surprising amount of of resources in the game, The music was also really good, which I was really glad to see.