Link: Fractured 4
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Content Rating: All Ages
If you like your puzzle platformers all full of sad, plinky plonky piano music and aggressively melancholic imagery, GroZZler’s Fractured 4 is for you. The series has always been about reuniting separated souls across a shattered level landscape where figuring out up and down isn’t always easy, and now the goal is to bring the little boy and girl in each stage back together. You use WASD or the arrow keys to move and jump, but the trick is that each level has been broken into pieces and then tossed around, so walking to the left on one shard may make you pop up in upside down on another somewhere else. Thus, getting these two kooky kids back together means putting each level back together in your head so you can plan where to go… the level itself isn’t actually broken, just your perspective of it.
If that sounds weird, well, a lot of the Fractured series does. Its gimmick is right there in the title, and you’ll either love it or hate it before long, since it doesn’t really have much else up its sleeve. It’s a slow, thoughtful game, where you’re supposed to pick your path through bit by bit, and at times seems more focused on impressing a state of mind rather than its gameplay. Fractured 4 backs away from the overly dramatic and obscure voiceover of previous entries, but still doesn’t really offer too much in the way of storytelling, which is a shame since the atmosphere is otherwise top notch. I’m actually on the fence as to what Fractured is ultimately aiming for this time around… am I supposed to connect with its feeling of being lost in a world that seems normal to everyone else but is hard to understand? Am I supposed to take from the two children that the message is ultimately that everyone feels the same way and we should look out for one another? Or is it something else entirely? I had almost wondered if Fractured 4 wasn’t trying to tell a more personal story, perhaps one that some people in the LGBTQ+ community might connect with, given the text that plays out throughout the game. But ultimately, Fractured 4 is a weird but stylish little game that may or may not have something meaningful to say, and may or may not strike a chord with you as a result. Ain’t life grand? Or at least nebulous and off-putting?