Secrets of Rætikon Review

Screenshot of an ominous structure in Secrets of Rætikon
Somehow the goal in Secrets of Rætikon is to collect tokens to activate these ominous machines

Quick Info
Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
Developer: Broken Rules
Publisher: Broken Rules
Release Date: 7 Jan 2014
Time played: 1.5 hours (INCOMPLETE)

Channeling oldschool cinematic platformers

Secrets of Rætikon is an indie game developed by Austrian studio Broken Rules. They have developed many artistic and quirky indie games over the past several years with their most recent being 2022's Gibbon: Beyond the Trees which received mixed reviews but it won a few awards including two for "Social Impact".

Screenshot of a table with runes in Secrets of Rætikon
You can have a go at deciphering runes in this game if you're so inclined

In Secrets of Rætikon you play the role of a bird that flies around a lush, alien world presented in low-poly yet appealing graphics. While the game feels like a platformer, it's not technically since you can fly around the map. Your task is to collect shards and use them to reactivate machines scattered all over the place. Flora and fauna can either help or hinder your progress. Birds of prey and big cats will attack you on sight but you're able to feed on eggs, fish and fruit in order to replenish your health.

It might be a bit generous to go this far but at times, I felt Broken Rules really nailed the vibe of cinematic platformers of the 90s, such as Another World: not much is explained about the alien world and you have to learn more about it through exploration. Also like oldschool games, there's very little hand holding which means it's very easy to get lost in this world unless you're drawing a map.

Screenshot of a giant fox in Secrets of Rætikon
You'll come across some wondrous creatures in this game like this giant fox

A metroidvania where you fly

Getting easily lost, however, was one particular aspect that frustrated me and heavily contributed towards me giving up on the game after under 2 hours. Which led me to a question I often ask myself, "why do I dislike metroidvanias?" and indeed, can Secrets of Rætikon be classified as one?

So, apparently (if we're going by Wikipedia's definition) Metroidvanias is a sub-genre of action-adventure games and plaftormers where the focus is on "non-linearity" and "utility-gated exploration and progression". The games "usually feature a large interconnected world map the player can explore, although parts of the world will be inaccessible [...] until they acquire special items…"

By that description, yes, I would consider Secrets of Rætikon a metroidvania since you do explore one large map separated into different screens but some ways are blocked until you activate machines. This in itself isn't a bad thing but, as mentioned before, it means you can easily get lost if you're not concentrating.

Also, the game occasionally requires immaculate timing like other platformers such as VVVVVV. As you know, I found these segments frustrating in VVVVVV so to come across them in Secrets of Rætikon was disheartening and ultimately I gave up on trying to continue the game any further.

Screenshot of thorny tree level in Secrets of Rætikon
This thorny tree will aggressively prevent you from removing artifacts and its a really frustrating level to boot


If you like indie metroidvanias that channel the vibe from 90s cinematic platformers like Another World (but you play the role of a bird instead of a particle physicist), Secrets of Rætikon might be worth a try. However, if mindlessly flying around, activating machines while avoiding predators sounds kind of boring to you, avoid.

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