Many if not most modern platformers sell themselves on the complexity of their gameplay. First-person platformer Refunct, on the other hand, rejects the idea that platformers should result in bitten nails and sweaty palms. Instead, it offers a playful, bite-sized, refreshing experience that’s perfect for a quiet afternoon.
You start the game on a tiny island built of blocky stone columns, while lowkey tunes play in the background. Moving from platform to platform changes the ground beneath you from stone to green grass, but that’s not all: there’s also a red glowing button that simply demands to be pressed. Doing so raises another set of platforms – and another button – out of the sea; despite the absence of any sort of tutorial, it becomes clear that growing this curious island and exploring it is your objective.
If that sounds pretty simple, it’s because it is. There’s no story and no enemies, just an unusual, shifting landscape that’s simply begging to be explored. There are wall jumps, distance leaps, and other challenges to keep things interesting, while the game’s many elevators, springboards, and pipes also provide plenty of interest. Together with the objective-light gameplay, these features help to make the landscape feel something like a playground. Climbing as high as you can, exploring under the water, and jumping from the highest towers is surprisingly fun, and since there’s no death state, you’re free to be as reckless as you please.
Of course, certain areas are trickier to get to than others; there are one or two pillars that prove particularly difficult to reach without a dose of lateral thinking. However, these challenges are never insurmountable, and they lend themselves to plenty of satisfying “A-ha!” moments. There’s also a handful of collectibles strewn across the map if you want to challenge yourself, but even then, 100% completion of the game is totally manageable in under an hour.
Throughout the whole experience, you’re treated to an ambient low-fi soundtrack. Most of the tracks are relaxing, with the exception of one or two that were harsher than what I’d expect to accompany the low-stakes gameplay. On the other hand, the sound effects are great, helping to tie the audio together over the course of the game.
Likewise, the visuals are fairly good if you enjoy Refunct’s blocky aesthetic, although it’s possible that some players may find them a bit bland. The day-night cycle and the constantly-changing environment do provide visual interest, however, and the game’s very harmonious colour palette leads to some stunning vistas.
Refunct also handles well, and its simple control scheme makes it an easy title to pick up and play. That said, it’s likely you’ll need to turn to the settings menu to understand how the controls work in the beginning, as there’s no in-game explanation for some of the basic controls.
Refunct is certainly not a complex game, but it’s an absolute delight. It stands out against the sea of platformers who boast of technical challenges, offering instead a forgiving open world to explore. Where most platformers tend to be linear and heavily goal-oriented, Refunct shifts the emphasis toward playful exploration and curiosity, and is a welcome addition to the repertoire of platforming games on the Nintendo Switch. If you’re looking for something relaxing and perhaps a little different, this one’s for you.
It may be on the (very) short side, but Refunct is a refreshing, playful, and non-violent platforming experience. If you’re in the market for something a little different, it’s certainly worth a look.