When Puzzles Are Too Easy To Solve - Reach: SOS Review

I love solving mysteries and puzzles. I’m definitely not the smartest person, but I always like taking a crack at mind games, especially ones that refuse to offer up any hints. In the mood for a real head-scratcher this weekend, I grabbed my magnifying glass and ventured through the sea in Reach: SOS.
Reach: SOS is a free-to-play point-and-click puzzle adventure game about communication and isolation. You solve mysteries in the game by tilting your phone and clicking objects, which can then be placed elsewhere. You play as a Shadow who lives alone as a worker on an island outpost in the middle of the sea. One day, you start receiving cryptic messages, and it’s up to you to figure out what they mean by venturing out across the ocean and finding the person who sent them.
Image Credited to Reach: SOS | Studio Reach
Reach: SOS features a reasonably short gameplay experience with only two chapters. However, there are no instructions or tutorials on how to play the game; you simply find out for yourself. The way the game itself plays functions as a  sort of mystery inside another mystery. As someone jumping into Reach: SOS with no prior knowledge of the game, my first instinct was to start clicking profusely, hoping something would happen, and honestly it left me scratching my head. For as important as it seems in retrospect, I didn’t even discover the essential tilting mechanic until well into the second chapter.
Most of Reach: SOS’s initial gameplay focuses on moving to items and picking them up so they can be used to repair devices or solve puzzles. Sometimes I’d even need to look at images to find a secret morse code, or a key to a vaulted room. It wasn’t until the last twenty percent of the game that turning my phone became a key component of solving puzzles—which feels like a big addition to introduce so late in the game!
Image Credited to Reach: SOS | Studio Reach
Lack of tutorializing aside, the puzzles throughout Reach: SOS weren’t too complicated to figure out. In the most challenging adventure games, I’ll hit points where I’m absolutely stumped and cannot move forward for hours. In Reach: SOS, there were times when I’d be stuck for a few minutes, but I usually hit that transcendent eureka moment relatively quickly.
Most of Reach: SOS’s puzzles require finding an item that allows you to put together another item, which is then used as a tool to solve an even bigger puzzle. Everything connects in a way that may prove satisfying to some mystery lovers, though I have to admit that I found the cycle repetitive by the end.
Image Credited to Reach: SOS | Studio Reach
It didn’t help my enjoyment that, on top of all the mysteries, Reach: SOS takes a very vague approach to its storytelling. The game provides tidbits of backstory on the Shadow and all the cryptic messages through little flashbacks within the chapter’s loading screens. But it doesn’t really dive deeply into those core mysteries. I never really learned more about the Shadow beyond that this strange, solitary creature needed my help.
Reach: SOS also employs a monochromatic visual style that can be a little bland, if thematically appropriate. The entire game is conveyed in stark shades of black, white, and gray, which sets an eerie, sad tone to the proceedings. It’s almost as if Shadow’s isolation has seeped into the game, transforming it.
Reach: SOS at least grasps for a deeper meaning and explanation for its perplexing gameplay and design. There’s something to the way that the game’s mind-boggling puzzles build on the sense of loneliness making people feel blank and emotionless. If the game’s ending is anything to go off of, there will be more chapters, sequels, or spin-offs of Reach: SOS to come, so perhaps these themes will be more thoroughly explored in the future
For these initial chapters, though, I was quite disappointed. Maybe Reach: SOS will provide a much more challenging and fun time at some point in the future, if it receives more chapters with increasingly harder puzzles. But as is, it failed to meet my expectations as a puzzle-focused adventure game. If you’re desperately on the hunt for a mystery and anything will do, Reach: SOS might be the solution you’re seeking. Me, though, I’ll have to keep on digging.
Evan’s Remains. If you enjoy mysteries like those in Evan’s Remains, Reach: SOS’s similar riddles may appeal to you.
Jekyll & Hyde. If you enjoy Jekyll & Hyde’s eerie and dark visual tones and mystery cases, you may enjoy playing Reach: SOS.
💬 Have you played Reach: SOS? Let us know what you think of the game in the comments! Does being alone drive you crazy like the Shadow in this game, or do you actually prefer solitude?
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I absolutely agree the puzzles are not that complicated (but the gameplay is not that intuitive either). It feels like the intro of a complete and proper puzzle game. I love the artstyle but after finishing it I just deleted it from my phone because I know I will not need to play it again. BTW this will seem a little plain, but if you like Rusty Lake, you'll probably like this game too.
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fr, rustly lake is great, with a hint of dark dome too
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