First Impressions: Reflections (Early Access)

Data
Break Up
Game: Reflections
Genre: Adventure, Indie
Developer: Broken Window Studios
Publisher: Broken Window Studios
Release Date: Jun 26, 2015
Platform: PC / Played on Windows 7
Overall rating:  Promising
Graphics: 7/10
Controls: 8/10
Level/Puzzle Design:7/10
Sound: 5/10
Story: 3/10
Replay Value: 5/10
Community: N/A
Review

As far as early access games Reflections is still, in very, very early access. While it does have a handful of endings and actions to be made, there is a whole lot of content lacking still. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s see here…

Reflections is one of those experimental type of games, it’s purposefully made in a way where you don’t know who exactly you are and what you look like, for it is your actions within the game that decide what ending you will get.
There isn’t that much of a story to be told, I suppose because you’re meant to make most of the story with what you do. You basically start as a teenager who is preparing to leave the family home to head to college, who may or may not have a girl/boyfriend, had a girl/boyfriend, or have a girl/boyfriend and cheat on them (when you start the game it gives you choices on who you’re currently dating, a boy, a girl, or neither; and who you had been dating in the past, and that’s about it). You can move, you can interact with objects by opening/closing doors and drawers, turning on switches, using keys, throwing stuff, etc; and you can walk or run around (though running seems to be a bit sloppy when it comes to turning while you do). For now (it’s unclear if it will remain like this or they will make it faster/slower) you have until nightfall (20 to 30 minutes) to get your affairs in order, and then you’re on your way to act 2, which is a different setting depending on what you chose to do or not do on the first act. Your actions also affect your relationship status and who you will be dating when you advance to the next act.

The game menu has fairly decent options for an early access game, so you can switch around video settings and a couple other things, which you will need to if you’re in lesser computers as the game can lag quite a bit. Unfortunately, I found that for some reason some of my options didn’t save, so every time I restarted the game I had to re-set half of them (I’m looking at you, screen resolution!).
The game has no music or sound on the menu, but it does have sounds when you’re in game; they’re fairly decent soundbites so far. The only music to be found is through records which you can find and put on a record player. The music isn’t very fitting to the peaceful, almost melancholic initial looks of the game, but since every record is quite different from the others, it’s actually quite a nice change of pace, and it gives you an ok choice of music to listen to – or none at all.
The models for the characters are decent, I actually rather liked most (but not all) of the ones I saw. In low settings, however, you lose the detail of something very important: the portrait with your significant other’s picture is just a bunch of blurred pixels.

Also, you can’t manually save your game, but it does save automatically between levels/acts.

Your trip through Reflections starts in black and white, and the actions you take in your world slowly color it, shaping your future. I won’t spoil what gets you what ending or anything, since the early access is rather short and has only a handful (3) of them.


Low settings graphics

So, without further ado, let’s jump right into what I liked and disliked about it so far, and how I think it could be improved.

Likes!

  • The setting is very nice. I like being able to explore and do things, just immerse myself in the game.
  • The idea that actions you take, as opposed to just choices in text, shape your destiny.
  • The way the house colors up when you accomplish things (though some of the colors are a tad bright and weird choices lol)
  • The developers are very active, nice, and listen to suggestions.
  • The “mini games” (mainly try and get darts on a board, skipping rocks, etc).

Dislikes! (or things that still need improvement/didn’t resonate with me)

  • The use of glow, particularly in the menu, but also in other areas, seemed to be a bit too liberal.
  • The loading times seem a bit long on my toaster of a computer.
  • You don’t have time to fully explore everything. I know this was done intentionally, because they want the actions on a time constraint to be meaningful, and I appreciate and understand the choice, but I would personally have liked best to have free time to look around, do everything, maybe trigger leaving to each ending by doing different actions as well instead of by an arbitrary time limit…
  • Painting the house. On the one-day time constraint there’s no way you can do it. Also, while I appreciated their attempt at realism, it makes me terribly dizzy to have to move the thing all over just to paint one bit of one wall. While it’d be unrealistic, I think just doing most of the wall and it automatically painting itself would be better in the long run.
  • There’s currently NO interaction with the boyfriend/girlfriend besides standing by them and listen to them go on and on at their own pace. Skipping dialogue via click would be nice. Being able to talk to them, make choices on what to say, etc, would also be nice (I read part of this is on the works). Would also be nice if the boyfriend/girlfriend would at least PRETEND to help you out with moving and such as opposed to just standing there.
  • The subtitles for the boyfriend were a bit hard to read.
  • Right now, the content completely skips college. I wish we could have some time to make more choices there. It seems like an important time in life to just skip.

Another thing I would have liked seeing would have been a choice of character on the start. Now, I know this was also intentional, as I read the developers wanted you to imagine whomever you wanted in the role, but being a role-player myself, I can’t help but think I’d still like to choose gender and some character customization, and make up my own character in game (and maybe get an actual reflection when I look into a mirror). But I suppose it’s also good as it is right now.

All in all, I feel like Reflections has a very good idea for an immersive game that could become quite interesting, but right now I don’t feel like it’s in a good enough state to be fully recommended for purchase, even as early access, unless you get it for very, very cheap (or free). I think once they add more content it might be worth a purchase if you’re into this kind of games, and it’s definitely worth keeping track on to see what they come up with in the future, but otherwise, I’d wait until it was more polished before trying this one out.

TL;DR
It’s a very interesting idea for a game with lots of potential, but it’s very unfinished in it’s current state and hence, not recommended for now.

Only recommended to get if: You truly believe this game will become awesome or love the type of games, it’s very cheap in a bundle or free, you wish to support the developers and give them their opinions to help shape the game, or the game has gotten a lot more content since this review, thus making it closer to worth the price tag.

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