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Wot I Think: Refunct

These green and pleasant columns

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While waiting for a video to finish uploading to YouTube, I poked through the new releases on Steam and spotted the pleasingly columnular Refunct [official site]. Green ground, blue sky, sticky-up columns – it’s what everyone wants from games. So, with no real idea what it was, I gave it a boot. And cor, it’s a lovely little half-hour-long thing. Here’s wot I think.

It’s a free-running game, in some sense. Your job is to jump from pillar to post, turning grey concreted slabs into grass-covered pleasantness, purely by the power of standing on them. And what’s so lovely here is that there’s no tiresome teaching of the skills necessary to reach the higher platforms – it nonchalantly teaches them to you purely by tempting you to try. Soon I was parkouring about like a pro, skimming off the side of one wall to scale another, leaping up between two, or just pleasingly bouncing around the place.

There’s no plot, no given purpose. Just a bucolic calmness, pleasant soundtrack, and entertaining time. There’s a thing.

It is, I think, a little too slow. A sprint option to let things get really nice and speedy once you’ve mastered the controls would have been an improvement. And it’s also extremely short. I finished the thing (well, 96%ed the thing – I’ve still no clue how to reach two final towers – but reached the ending anyway) in under half an hour. But for a £2 game, that’s half an hour very pleasingly spent – the sort of game I wouldn’t mind playing again in another spare moment later in the week.

But what I think Refunct most importantly demonstrates is the nascent skill of developer Dominique Grieshofer. This appears to be his first public project, and what’s displayed here is a rare talent for communicating what a player needs to do in a game without ever having to actually say it. That makes me want to keep a careful eye on whatever he does next. And I rather hope that might be developing Refunct into a longer project. No need to add many new elements, either. Just a series of further levels based on a similar theme, maybe some new ways to sproing yourself higher in the air, and of course some greater difficulty. That please.

In the meantime, this is a little vignette of a thing, and it’s rather lovely. It’s £2, out on Steam now.

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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