Some day, the colour blind gamers of the world will no longer feel ostracised, for a puzzle game involving light and mirrors will be released that doesn’t rely on knowing those colour wheels from your Year Three art lessons.
Today is not that day.
Today is the day another colour-based puzzler challenges the logical among us and baffles the rest of humanity.
Each level of Refraction begins with one or more laser beams of coloured light shining out across the great black beyond. To solve the level, you have to match the beam up to its corresponding goal, using a combination of mirrors and prisms.
Mirrors simply reflect the beam, while prisms split the light into two beams or combine two beams of primary colours (say, green and red) into a single beam (say, yellow). It’s even possible to combine several coloured beams into white light.
So far, so art class.
A few new elements are introduced into Refraction as you progress through the game’s 120 levels: switches that need to be activated to clear the path for your lasers, and black holes that act like portals, transferring beams from one place to another.
There is a light that never goes out
It’s definitely a thinker. The puzzles themselves start out fluffy and cute, but very soon become harder than a marble statue of Charles Bronson.
Occasionally, a straightforward one is slipped back in, though you get the feeling this is just to make you feel clever for a millisecond, before the game slams you with the next bewildering conundrum.
This bodes well for those who like their games to last forever (and with 120 levels, it’ll certainly feel this way), but a lot of that time is taken up by the fiddly control scheme.
Admittedly, this is the game’s only major blemish, but it’s annoying enough to severely try your patience, especially given the harder levels will have you seething at their difficulty.
Dark side of the moon
Mirrors and prisms are placed onto the grid by dragging and dropping. Simple enough. Rotating the mirrors and controlling the lasers beaming out of the prisms are another matter.
You can swivel your finger around the object in question to control its direction, which is a jarring and stiff method. Or you can use the bar at the bottom to rotate the object clockwise or counter-clockwise, which feels a touch counter-intuitive.
On the one hand, the attention you have to pay to placing objects is painstaking. This doesn’t just border on irritation – it invades irritation and forces a vote on an annex.
On the other hand, it’s not like Refraction is a game that requires fast finger work. The slow pace caused by the wonky controls is easily enough forgiven. In some way it’s half-expected in a puzzler as logically complex as this.