Never in my 15 years of gaming life have I seen a game concept so simple yet so unique. Just reading the mere description of the game blew my socks off (no pun intended). After all, it is not often that you see games that question the fabric of reality (again, no pun intended) coming from such a tiny source. But Hadr is just that. Small, puzzling, elegant. It is the perfect recipe to get you hooked to all its folds and ruffles (promise, no pun intended). This review is surely going to uncover the different layers seen in Hadr (okay, pun intended).
Hadr is an experience, a game where you play as a rag. Everything you engulf and/or completely cover up will disappear off the environment. Use this magical power bestowed upon a humble rag to navigate your way through the game, unravelling different mysteries on the way.
STORY – AN EXPERIENCE LIKE NONE OTHER
There is only one mode in Hadr and it puts you directly onto the game. The opening scenes are accompanied by some text that talks about the classic bunny-in-a-hat magic trick. But here is where the simplicity ends and begins at the same time. You are transported to a world filled with medium-sized and a few large objects and a nice plain piece of fabric. You are instructed on how to control the rag and that’s it. There is no UI, no task list or a map. You are free to do as you please with only visual and sound cues to guide you. And that is where the genius of Hadr is displayed. The game subtly blurs the screen if you get too far away from your objective, plays a sound every time you make something disappear and the world itself changes its hues as you progress.
There are different levels called Rooms that you progress through. Each Room makes up one puzzle and solving it will take you the next Room. But fret not – if you mess up, you can simply restart the Room. And one of the best features for Hadr is that you can still go the next Room if you cannot solve the puzzle or simply feel lazy. Though, I do recommend spending as much time as possible solving each Room as there aren’t many to play. I will not reveal the exact number but it is a single digit. And each level is totally worth the effort.
A Tale of Two Tales
Hadr tells a story within a story. The text offers you a scenario that is very different but somewhat related to what you actually do in-game. The text-based story talks about a magician performing a show in front of an audience with his rabbit and a cage. I will not spoil the next parts of this story but you can let your imagination run wild. It is a short story and offers an alternate reality to what you do with Hadr, ergo the rag. The second part of the story, the gameplay, is simply a set of puzzles that you spend your time, and your brain cells, solving. Take your time, you’re gonna start craving more gameplay once the game is over. I promise you.
GAMEPLAY – BEAUTIFUL YET A LITTLE ANNOYING
The gameplay in Hadr is pretty straightforward. You move the rag. You fly the rag. But that’s where it starts getting difficult. The cloth physics are on point and the rag moves seamlessly wherever you take it. There is a gentle acceleration to the movement as well as flight, and you will be spending a lot of time in the first 2 Rooms trying to gauge the sensitivity of the controls. Hadr can be played using a keyboard but the game recommends a controller for the best experience, which I used and it definitely feels very natural. There are only 2 controls to remember, one to move and the other to fly, and anyone can play this game with ease.
Regarding game mechanics, I did struggle a bit in certain sections, especially Room 2; The Train. The cloth has the tendency to glitch through the objects and I did face this issue a lot. When trying to make objects vanish below another object, sometimes the higher object can roll onto the cloth and prevent you from escaping, causing you to restart the Room. While that is perfectly logical, the problem is when the cloth magically phases through a falling object and gets stuck inside it, which also made me restart the level. I faced this issue predominantly in the Train level and I had to restart the Room around 3-4 times before I cleared it. Lastly, while the game is really simple to complete, you might feel stuck sometimes. My advice: keep your eyes peeled of the surroundings at all times.
Easter Egg – Multiple Rags!
A tiny treat that I totally did not see coming whatsoever was controlling more than one rag. Without spoiling too much, you get to control 2 rags in one level and then even 3 rags in another. I genuinely had a blast racking my brains making stuff vanish using my cloth helpers.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO – A FEAST FOR YOUR SENSES
There always seems to be a set expectation in terms of graphics from an indie game. Interestingly, Hadr throws all stereotypes out of the window. The game is proper eye candy and is visually stunning to the dot. The lighting, subtle shadows and environment design are flawless. The star of the game, the humble rag, is so realistic, including the folds and waves it creates when flying is so, so satisfying to watch. The settings menu don’t offer any graphical settings other than resolution and fullscreen toggle but frankly, that’s all you need!
The audio in Hadr sets a unique gloomy mood which is aimed at making a player attentive to the screen. It is gloomy in the sense it makes one think, struggle and finally pull off a move, all while staying engaged with the background music. There aren’t any sound effects in the game other than the prompts you get when you successfully manage to make something vanish.
Hadr was reviewed on PC via Steam with a key provided by Ateliér Duchů.