A wonderfully serene puzzler with plenty of character.
Porting videogames to more powerful platforms isn’t always that easy. Graphics can be improved but the overall feel will always come across from the original. This can be especially noticeable when bringing a Samsung Gear VR title to Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, as the differences between a smartphone an a VR-ready PC are massive. Earlier this year Funsoft released its African themed puzzler Rangi onto the mobile headset, and now its arrived on PC with full motion controller support. So has it ported well enough to be a worthwhile purchase for PC users? It certainly seems so.
On first glance the look of Rangi is fairly basic. It’s a highly stylized, cel-shaded videogame with masses of bold colours and very little textures. While this design may have been not only for artistic reasons but also performance on mobile devices, quite frankly the videogame still looks lush on the Oculus Rift. The aesthetically pleasing world that Funsoft has created can then be seen in the puzzles and music that accompany you on this mystical and at points surreal journey.
VR puzzle titles have a tendency to be fairly short experiences with the difficulty ranging from easy throughout, to just plain difficult from the outset. Rangi doesn’t have this issue, with the studio managing to find that perfect difficulty curve. So the first few puzzles are rudimentary and simple, each one taking just moments to complete as you get a hang of the controls – of which there aren’t many. You can only move to set teleportation points, which can feel restrictive giving the abundance of roomscale titles, but that does mean you’re not wandering around trying to find out what goes where and what does what. Just be observant at each point and you’ll figure it out.
While the first puzzles ease you in, being nicely compact and room sized, they soon expand into massive landscape moving challenges that’ll test your memory as well as your puzzle solving skills. The one let down would be that while they do change in size and complexity, a significant portion do revolve around the same idea, moving blocks or spinning boxes to get a mixture of colours to lineup and open the next door. It doesn’t necessarily get boring, it does mean you get into a rhythm of what to do quite quickly.
Because of the style of puzzle, Rangi for the most part is a relaxing videogame, allowing you to take your time to complete challenges at your own pace. Funsoft hasn’t been entirely kind however, as there are certain sections that are all about speed, with rising lava or spiked walls trying to kill you. It’s a refreshing change of pace which can catch you unawares the first time, turning into frustration should you make a mistake as you’ll get sent back to the start of the area.
VR puzzlers can be equally entertaining and annoying at the same time, which is why they tend to have a popular following. Rangi is one of those enjoyable experiences that just works. Sure it can’t match the cinematic spectacle of FORM but then its not trying to, delivering a character all of its own.