At some point, I decided I need to just give myself up to the dance. Hit the dance floor and go absolutely wild. Unfortunately, I don’t have any dancing skills, but this is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, right? Well, no. I did, however, get to play a dancing grim reaper in Felix the Reaper, so that was a nice consolation prize. I got a chance to check the game out back at the end of 2017 and thought it was a fun experience with a few noticeable issues. Has this dance slid into my heart, or should it boogie off quietly into that dark night?
The game opens up by introducing you to Felix, a groovy grim reaper that loves two things: dancing, and a woman named Betty who works for the Ministry of Life. Felix becomes a grim reaper in the hopes of meeting Betty while on an assignment since that would be the only time he’d get a chance. It’s a cute story, simple enough that it’s easy to root for Felix on his journey. Despite never speaking a word, Felix just absolutely oozes personality. Within minutes of his introduction, Felix is already up there as one of my favorite depictions of death. He holds his own against famous ones like Marvel’s Death, or Discworld’s Death. Felix is a bro, and I want him to succeed just because I needed to see what dance he’d do for Betty.
Dance Yourself to an Early Grave
Hilariously, Felix also dances around during his assignments, setting up various victim’s deaths. In Felix the Reaper you’ll have to move Felix around, avoiding the light and setting up a death. The map divides into grids, so you can very easily see where Felix can and can not go. Much of the puzzles involve manipulating objects to create shadows.
Felix has one very important tool on hand: the Sun Master. This device allows him to change the location of the sun between two set points, which will then change where the shadows cover. One of my biggest issues with the Sun Master in the preview was that it was unclear which way it would work, and that often the only way to find out if you’ll be in shadows or not was trial and error. Developer Kong Orange must have taken this issue to heart because now the Sun Master makes it very clear which direction the sun will face when you hit it. Furthermore, you can now set up previews that show you what the world will look like after you move the sun, so you can decide if you want to commit to the action or not.
Besides the sun, there are several other objects you can find around the world to help you. The most common are things you can pick up and move around, such as boxes and barrels. Each of them will make shadows for you, and you can even stack them on top of each other to give you a longer range. Later, there are pipes that bring you to specific places in the level, pressure pads that move objects around, and switches that can raise and lower flags. It’s a decent chunk of ideas, and some time goes into making sure you learn each one.
However, it all feels a bit on the simple end. Once you’ve finished the first chapter of Felix the Reaper then you’ve basically seen the entire game. It feels like the mechanics have unexplored potential. Perhaps letting the sun move to more than two positions or maybe something with Felix’s great dance moves. Likewise, the game could also have done with exploring more time periods, as all your targets are either in the 1400s or the 1980s. A dark futuristic city where Felix has to alter neon lights almost seems to be the perfect way to expand the gameplay. Instead, Felix the Reaper spans five chapters of 4-6 levels each, which should take you about 4 hours to finish and don’t feel that different from each other.
On almost every level, your goal is to transport a specific object somewhere else. Sometimes you’ll need to move an animal so that it will interact with events in a way, like one level that has you putting a dog in a street so a car will swerve around it. Another level needs you to move a bag of birdseed to an open window so some birds will fly into the house, scaring the occupant out of it. I only remember one level doing anything unique, where I had to arrange some shadows to make an upside-down cross to scare a nun. That’s clever, and it feels strange that more ideas didn’t use ideas like this. It’s not that the puzzles are bad, they’re quite fun to solve, it just feels like Felix the Reaper has one puzzle type and never moves off it for the whole game.
At least the campaign absolutely oozes style. Felix’s dances are hilarious, well animated and genuinely wonderful to behold. I haven’t had this much fun watching someone dance since I saw the music video for Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice. Likewise, the worlds are creative, and the cutscenes are often darkly hilarious. They may be depicting horrible and violent ends, but they’re often in a weird and humorous way. Likewise, there’s a fantastic soundtrack that features songs by artists such as Dreamer’s Circus, The Official Face, Audiopilot, and more. All their tunes fit the game effortlessly, and I wanted quite a few of them in my playlist afterward.
Felix the Reaper Review | Final Thoughts
All this style helps Felix the Reaper stand out when its puzzles aren’t quite holding it up as well. More variety could have made this one of the puzzle greats worth dying for. Still, if you’re a fan of moving things around and are up for having a groovy time, Felix the Reaper is worth playing. Just don’t make me dance again.
TechRaptor reviewed Felix the Reaper on PC using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.