Two long separated stars are trying to find their way back to each other. Drifting through the nebulae for an undefined time, they long to be reunited. Their return to one another is inevitable yet one star has grown impatient, enlisting the help of a messenger who holds the special powers necessary to perform the acts that will precipitate their reunion.
Landing in a mysterious forest, you're tasked with bringing the two stars back together. Lush, relaxing music pervades the opening scenes as you stumble upon what seem like long lost ruins. Immediately, you're thrown into a puzzle which does a terrific job of setting the mysterious scene. For this is not a normal world, things change and shift around. You can fall long distances and end up back from where you fell. Doors can perform acts of teleportation, leading from one side of the island to another. These are mechanics which expertly permeate the entire game but are never spelled out. For many of the puzzles, the solution is obvious but the path to the solution is a touch more trifling. This, in fact, is one of the game's biggest strengths, it's puzzles are a perfect balance of obscurity and difficulty.
A lack of hand-holding is a common theme throughout the game. Often frustrating, Rice Cooker Republic have perfected the concept. Outside of the brief tutorials, you're left to your own devices in a gorgeous monochromatic open world that encourages you to go anywhere. Whilst the world is filled with puzzles, there is no order to them. Stumble upon one, solve it, and the two stars are pulled closer to one another. The 'go anywhere' mantra is entirely achievable too. As the messenger, you're given the ability (amongst others) to build turquoise cubes upon most of the world's surfaces. Once you've got one block down, you can build off it further - the sky is literally your limit! At one point, I built a structure so tall that I hit an invisible ceiling and as far as I can tell, this is one of only two limiting factors to how much you can build. The developers have included an option to wipe your world clean of blocks in the unlikely event that you build so much that it brings your computer to a halt. At another point, I built a walkway around half of the world, reaching into the sky and providing a quick route anywhere I needed to go.
My walkway was almost entirely pointless, however. Something that filled me with joy as I transcended into the world of Bokida, was freedom of movement. Where many indie games get bogged down in clunky controls, Bokida excels. There's no falling to your death, there's no frustration in slightly mistiming a jump. You can glide around the world. Jumping off a tall building, for example, allows you to glide across all of the map with a bird's eye view, falling to anything interesting that might catch your eye. As you're gliding (or just running, for that matter), you can put down a block and use it to propel yourself forward. It's truly wonderful. Words fail to do it justice.
As alluded to earlier, the world is almost completely monochromatic, blue skies provide a colourful edge to the world but mostly you'll be dealing with white or black environments. But every so often Bokida breaks away from that and dashes the scene with vibrant colours which provide real 'wow moments', made all the more powerful by the lack of colour at other times.
Dotted throughout the world are 'echoes', black dots which you pick up as you approach them. You'll naturally come across them as you explore, picking up enough to complete the game. The rest are simple collectibles which provide no real reason to find. Having said that, there's plenty of fun to be had in exploring more and building that they might be a fun side-project for any completionists out there. There are also a number of stones which hint at a sub-story, each stone features symbols which translate into Lao Tzu quotes. I briefly looked for meaning in the stones but came up empty handed, beyond Steam achievements.
The story of reuniting the two stars is light on the ground, providing a simple narrative which gives you a reason to follow the game through to its end but, much like the rest of the game's mechanics and features, it remains subtle. Unusually for me, I never felt at any point that it needed to be anything more than it is. The world and it's smart puzzles were such a joy to explore that I felt plenty satisfied.
Never holding your hand, but never frustratingly difficult, Bokida perfects exploration, movement, and puzzles in a game which feels new and different. The monochromatic world is dashed with vibrant colour providing 'wow moments' and is, in general, just a fantastic space to explore and play in.
- Freedom of movement
- Smart, environmental puzzles
- Perfect balance of obscure game mechanics and difficulty
- A mostly beautiful world to explore
- The world can be slightly bland in some places
- Tacked on collectibles