Bokida analysis – Heartfelt Reunion. Light and darkness

Written by Kamran Haider

After having played Bokiden – Heartfelt Reunion, the truth is that I don’t think he was born to succeed. He has never wanted it. Rather, it is here to make us reflect so that unbelievers have joy, or so that those who are fed up with the usual can experience something really different

I‘m coming back from Steam right now. It is almost dawn. I just played Bokida – Heartfelt Reunion. The first thing I do is see that at the moment there are 29 analyzes on the platform, very little, being such an active community. I go to his Twitter account and he has just over 650 followers. There are few reviews on the Internet if I don’t make a mistake by saying it in the plural. However, the few opinions I have seen are positive. Mine joins them.

We have not learned about the play in 3D Games because of its promotion, but because of an email we received a few weeks ago: “We have seen that you have covered relaxed titles based on exploration. We think you might be interested in trying it out. It is an adventure of open-world with a minimalist aesthetic of the Rice Cooker Republic company and we will launch it for Windows, Mac, and Linux on May 17, 2017. ” The mail was brief and only incorporated a small trailer. His special aura was what led us to be interested in him.

The game world is monochrome. You start in a dark place, in the first person. Because of the height of the camera, you think that you are not in the role of a human: you go almost at ground level. Someone starts to pronounce metaphysical messages in an unknown language. It is an alternative reality as few are seen in a video game. A minimalist, mysterious, but at the same time charismatic place. You have no idea what your role is in that world, nor the assurance that you will discover something. It goes beyond the objectives. There is exploration. There are puzzles. But first of all, it is a trip.

Yin and yang in the open world

It is difficult to assess these types of titles because sometimes it disorients more than helps. Therefore, it is better that you accompany me through the words and then, if you want, press the play button above. Bokida is about moving through an open interconnected world. It is a desert full of meanings, where you must activate some monoliths to connect the light with the darkness: yin and yang.

The introduction of these terms is not a matter of gafa pastism. The game goes beyond the usual, manifesting this Taoist concept in the gameplay: the earth and the sky; passivity and activity; the light and the darkness… There is inserted in the world and in the gameplay itself a relationship between these two forces, something that in practice we put in place through our movement and the resolution of puzzles.

This is thanks to a series of powers that are granted to us as we move forward, generating a dynamic Metroidvania, but also (and mainly) cumulative. The first thing we learn is to generate cubes on stage, unlimitedly. You can do it to reach high places, fill spaces that open a passage, or cut them and thus bounce a ray of darkness until it reaches an activatable pillar of light. Construction, geometry and platform form come together in a powerful playable concept, which is accompanied by other actions that add depth to the initial world

It seems vast and simple, but then you realize that inside there are numerous and small surprises

Bokida is in the end like a Russian doll. It seems vast and simple, but then you realize that there are many small surprises inside. There comes a time in the game when you can alter gravity, or even generate attraction to the cubes that you place yourself. The result is that you end up being like Neo in Matrix: there are no limits, beyond those that impose the difficulty of finding your way until you reach the end of the adventure.

They are about 5-6 hours in which the only rejudge consists of collecting a series of spheres of darkness. The structure is decentralized, but some type of conducting wire is missing. The narrative is intentionally diffuse, although it would not have been a little more coherent. The puzzles are ingenious. However, there are times when there is a feeling of repetition, that you have already done that, or even that you have already been there.

However, I am amazed at the fact that a student project has reached these levels of depth and innovation. It was the graduation work at the ICAN school (Paris) of five people. When they received an honorable mention in the Independent Game Festival competition, they decided to take the step: turn the prototype into a video game. This is the brief but striking story of Bokiden’s development, as different as the story he tells us.

We are a messenger with the mission of making the worlds of light and darkness love each other again. In between, pure black and white “zen” beauty that is accompanied by adaptive music, which harmoniously adapts to the situation, depending on where we are. She is always calm but manages the rhythms to immerse ourselves in the fantasy of this open-world so different. The BSO supposes, without much exaggeration, more than half of the importance of the game, and it is without a doubt one of its best aspects.

There are no missions, there are no mini-games, there is nothing that can get you out of this sense of interconnection with the work. In fact, and although it seems strange to you, the only enemy you have in the adventure is yourself. There are times when your logic as a player asks “what are you doing playing this”, to which the illogical response: “I have to keep playing.”

From this strange, metaphysical, but fascinating dialogue between your inner self and the video game is Bokida – Heartfelt Reunion. And as its name suggests, it is a “sincere encounter” not only with the video game and what it proposes but with yourself. It is the typical video game that is difficult to recommend if the person reading these lines is not known. But if you identify yourself in something that is written, or at least you want to risk understanding, I would not think about it … It is a different experience.

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There are video games made for those who are tired of always the same, who are not afraid to dare with new things, even though they must assume the threat of being disappointed. For that kind of people it is Bokida – Heartfelt Reunion, the title of difficult definition and even more complicated recommendation. A different open-world, relaxed, without enemies … Only you, a minimalist world, a message and five hours after which nothing will seem the same to you (at least in the world of video games).

  • Deep and interesting message, in the narrative, playable and audiovisual
  • Feeling of fantasy and predominant mystery: very absorbent
  • Ingenuity in the skills and design of puzzles
  • Audiovisual minimalism, but a generator of powerful sensations
  • Despite interesting, the experience is ephemeral
  • Some inconsistencies in terms of structure or variety of puzzles

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Kamran Haider

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