What would you think if the grim reaper used the medium of dance to bring people to the afterlife?
I’d think, “Well, whatever he’s gotta do to get the job done.”
In Felix the Reaper from Kong Orange you play as a grim reaper named Felix who uses his fantastic dancing skills to express himself on and off the job. People are always dying up on Earth and it’s up to Felix to make sure that everything goes according to the plan. Along with trying to do his job properly, Felix also has a not-so-secret secret. He works for The Ministry of Death – but he’s in love with Betty the Maiden from The Ministry of Life. He thinks that by working as a field reaper, he might one day be able to meet this busty, gorgeous specimen of a woman. In the meantime, he’s been perfecting his fantastic dance moves the best he can.
It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it, right? And Felix does the best he can with what he’s given. He may freak out the other reapers with his constant dancing, but they can’t say he doesn’t have some amazing moves. Felix’s day-to-day is spend in the land of the living, ensuring that deaths happen as they are meant to. Sometimes this means moving objects or people around to make everything just-so. But things get a bit more complicated because Felix, being undead and all, can’t touch sunlight. And Earth, well, it’s terribly bright.
Thankfully, in order to keep himself from burning alive, Felix can manipulate shadows and that’s where the player comes in. Throughout Felix the Reaper‘s mostly flat levels are items, large and small, that cast shadows on the floor. Felix can change the direction the sun faces, making those shadows move, allowing him to reach places that he may have been unable to before. Sound easy? Unfortunately, it’s not exactly straightforward every time. In fact, you’ll be forced to move things around every level to make new shadows for Felix to hide in. You’ll even be dealing with things that can only move back and forth, like a skeletal horse pulling a carriage in the first set of levels.
One advantage that Felix has, though, is that he can predict where the sunlight is going to go. That way, you’re able to make a plan before actually going through with it. It’s not the most helpful skill to have, since you could simply trial-and-error your way through a level anyway, but it does make it so that you can score more points for not having failed. Each level has criteria for you to try and meet, but Felix the Reaper doesn’t reveal what that criteria is until after you’ve completed the level. I often got so frustrated I stopped caring about my score and just burned Felix in the hellfires of sunlight, over and over and over again hoping that one of those times he’d realise that he was looking a little pale and didn’t mind having a bit of sunlight shining on his delicate bones. (Spoiler: he never did.)
One of the best parts of Felix the Reaper is Felix’s personality. He’s passionate about dance and, although the other reapers find this off-putting, it doesn’t stop him from being himself. Felix the Reaper features a handful of indie ditties to choose from on Felix’s Walkman to help set the mood for the events that are soon to transpire. Felix’s dance moves were even created by professional dancers, so if you find yourself thinking “Damn, he’s got good moves”, it’s because he really has.
Although Felix the Reaper may seem simplistic with its grid-like levels and easy concepts, it actually gets pretty darn complicated. I found myself stuck numerous times and although I managed to persevere, I’m not sure other gamers would be as willing to grin and bear their way through it. It requires a lot of patience. Especially considering, at times, you’re forced to start over rather than try and correct what you’ve done. You just have to hope that by starting over, you’ll see something you missed during those first nineteen attempts. Don’t get me wrong; Felix the Reaper is extremely rewarding when you finally beat that level that you’ve been stuck on for ages – but when it takes you and your two friends to figure something out, it really discourages you from continuing.
That being said, Felix the Reaper does have a hint system in place where you can supposedly see the next step that you’re meant to take, but it’s not always clear what the hint is trying to tell you. I’m not one to heavily rely on hints in games – I prefer to only use a hint in the most dire of circumstances – but I’ll ashamedly admit to hitting that hint button one too many times on those levels towards the end.
Casual gamers beware: unless you’re a weathered pro at puzzle games, you’re likely to find Felix the Reaper to be tough-as-nails. If you’re looking for a good challenge however, you’ll definitely get what you came for. Felix’s world, as well as Felix himself, is full of vibrant personality, and the game’s entire aesthetic – from the creatures’ expressions, to Felix’s risque love interest Betty – is simply wonderful. Without a doubt, Felix the Reaper‘s gorgeous aesthetic will draw you in, but it’s just a shame its difficulty will likely push some people away.