Puzzlers are a dime a dozen on the Nintendo Switch eShop, especially those that have made their way from mobile devices. There was something about Fracter that caught my eye immediately though, with the game’s screenshots showing off an eerie monochrome world that gave off a haunting vibe. As a fan of all things that go bump in the night, I had to check it out. What I found was a puzzler that was genuinely fun to play, though not one that necessarily spooked me too much… well… outside of its creepy enemies, that is.
Fracter’s gameplay is built around solving puzzles by using light, with the player able to activate an array of beacons that emit light across the environment. By using these light sources, you’ll activate other objects across each locale that open up new pathways, in turn allowing you to move further through each level and find the bright silhouettes that you require to progress. Simple enough, right? Well, with objects you can push around, movable platforms, and weird enemies stalking the hallways of the monochromatic world, there’s a decent amount of variety on offer to keep you on your toes during your journey.
Speaking of enemies, they’re actually a pretty creepy bunch that managed to spook me out on more than a few occasions. They’re constantly wandering through the hallways of each level, so you’ve got to use objects around you in order to hide from their view. If they do catch you in their sight, your best bet is to just run away – they crawl towards you on all fours when they’re in pursuit (which is actually pretty eerie), so you’ll know when you need to make a getaway. Alternatively, you can seek out a source of light to hide within for a moment of solace, or simply use the light yourself to block off their path towards you. It’s all about using the light in creative ways in Fracter, not only to make new pathways open up but to survive the threat of the monsters too.
The gameplay formula itself can be pretty simple, though there are enough new ideas presented to later levels to keep the player tested. Each mechanic is introduced to the player gently so they can figure out how it works too, so nothing in Fracter ever feels intimidating or tough to get to grips with.
That could work for and against the game. Whilst it was nice not to ever feel confused when playing, the puzzles themselves could often be a little too easy to solve. I can’t really think of any instance when playing where I was genuinely stuck, with the only real threat to my progress coming from the enemies that are lurking around. The thing is, even their presence isn’t all that intimidating when you consider that the repercussion of them catching you is to simply be sent back to a checkpoint. Given Fracter’s gloomy and haunting presentation, it’s a surprisingly easy-going experience overall.
Whilst it did lack a real challenge, there’s still plenty to enjoy in Fracter. The puzzling mechanics themselves are neat and they introduce plenty of new ideas throughout to keep things varied, whilst the overall presentation is slick and smooth through. There’s something so haunting about the environment you explore, with the monochrome landscapes and small sources of lighting helping set up an atmosphere that feels both harrowing and hopeful at the same time.
It shouldn’t take players too long to beat Fracter, with it clocking in at around two hours overall – whilst that’d be something I might complain about in other releases, it actually helps to ensure that Fracter’s levels never feel like they outstay their welcome. It’s short and sweet, whilst the low price tag means that you’ll still feel like you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck when playing.
Fracter is a short and sweet puzzling experience that, despite not being too tricky to beat, offers plenty of enjoyment across its varied levels. It’s a pretty looking title too, with its haunting monochromatic world making for a unique setting to adventure across.
Whilst it’s not likely to blow anyone away with its easy-going puzzling mechanics, there’s still a fun time to be had with Fracter and it has its share of unique ideas. Plus, it’s pretty cheap to grab on the eShop… there’s not much to lose in trying it out.
Developer: 4L Games
Publisher: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC