There’s a really satisfying feature to solving Red Matter 2 puzzles that can really feel like your brain in your galaxy kicks in when a penny drops. This is partly due to how this slightly tainted space adventure from Bioshock uses VR gameplay to lead you. Oftentimes you’ll see diagrams or a clipboard that you can pick up and look at how a piece of alien space machine works. If it’s a casual game, you read notes or dip into menus to erase bits of text in a totally boring way – but in Red Matter 2, you’re often standing next to whatever you’re trying to solve with the instructions at hand, and hopefully looking into anything you can get helps you.
It’s the future
It’s a little confusing at first because the game doesn’t give you anything to help at first, including even guiding you through how any of them work. You threw away your “This Is How You Solve It” folder while investigating at least one mystery to begin with. However, once you’ve settled into the right groove, there’s a tangible, satisfying sense of exercise and puzzle-solving at hand. Rather than searching for glowing prompts and objects to interact with, you’re looking for physical clues in the world around you — picking up vital information from computer screens, or realizing that the bottle in the cupboard looks exactly like the one in a handy chart. There’s an escape room where you feel some of the best puzzles here, and one late-match challenge that got me excited “Oh my God, what?” The moment when you assemble something. I still strut around thinking “I CleverAfter days after that.
All of this big mind takes place in a 1960s-style Soviet space base, hence the former Bioshock’s invocation. There are no genetic forces here, or fasteners, but technical design is entirely in this type of field. Story wise I have to admit I’m going to be a bit ambiguous here because Red Matter 2 doesn’t specifically care about one point if you’ve played the previous game. There’s a brief opening attempt to introduce some drama and characters, but it seems like an afterthought – you just get a room with some items on a table that you can pick up to get a character to go ‘Oh that guy was, remember that guy?’ Anyway, go ahead…”
In many ways, the game feels like a movie you played halfway through if you haven’t played the first movie. The red stuff, for example, which gives this its name, is never explained and when you start doing things you just realize “Oh, it’s Charm goop space– Kind of nuclear, biologically contagious, spacetime, warp, transcendent cosmic McGuffin driving the Russian, sorry, fulgrafianthe arms race.
In a galaxy, somewhere
However, while the story treated me as an uninvited guest for not playing the previous game, I think I enjoyed it more without the baggage. As your character talks to a friendly voice in her earpiece, everything slowly falls into place. Portions of the dialogue also hint at your imprisonment and escape leaving your memory in a state, so I suspect the feeling of not knowing what is going on is intentional, if poorly communicated.
Prior knowledge of the last game or not, the main thing is to have fun solving puzzles and enjoy the atmosphere. This space card plays well with a few stargazing shuttles and at least one dash across a moon staring in awe at a giant planet dominating the black sky. There’s some great music too, from the composer who clearly sniffed the occasional woodwind bits that run through the transformations in Star Wars. It’s a fairly nice pace overall, aside from the pistol’s late appearance, which adds a welcome boost to action and momentum towards the finish. I obviously won’t spoil the epilogue, but it’s nice to wrap up with science fiction to see things through.
In general, the phrase “good science fiction” sums up Red Matter 2 well. It’s a stylized 60’s space adventure a bit like one of the amusement park rides where people in costumes and theater enthusiastically pretend it’s all really real. There are a few puzzles I’m still thinking about now, and they strike that “oh” feeling you want in VR where sometimes just being able to “be there” and look around is exciting enough. It’s a good jet-packing adventure that mixes some cool vibes and some hands-on VR challenges that’s worth trying if you want to feel smart in space.
red matter 2 (Opens in a new tab) Now out on the PC.