Reah gets lost in the translation

Reah: Face the Unknown
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You wouldn’t understand it, it’s a Polish thing.

What the folks at Project 2 Interactive are calling "Riven for everyone," the adventure/puzzle game Reah turns out to be less Myst inspiring and more difficult to understand, furthermore solve.

You play an obnoxious journalist who somehow gets transported to a reality full of idiotic characters and puzzles that are either too simplistic or impossible to solve. Reah is another game of excellent environment, but piss-poor plotting.

Moreover, since Reah comes from the Polish company L.K. Avalon, all of the actors are poorly Samari-movie-like dubbed by badly voiced Americans speaking childishly written dialogue. It made me wonder if the original script got translated literally by one of those software programs that fails to recognize the nuances of language.

It’s starting to sound like I hated Reah. I didn’t. In its original tongue, I bet the game is compelling. If only the translation to an American audience had been done with the same attention to detail found in the artistic drawings and sound environments, Reah could have been another Myst.

But it’s far from Myst.

The puzzles are too linear, meaning if one stumps you, you can’t move on until it’s solved. And one puzzle in particular lacks all solution since no clues or hints provide help. Actually, that same puzzle turns out to be an excellent example of the language rift problems.

Early in the first world, a mysterious voice points to a number to help you solve a puzzle. The voice proffers the hint, "Four into forty." What is "four into forty?" Mrs. Cagle from my third grade might pose the question, and I’d think that forty divided by four equals 10. I’d get a gold star from Mrs. Cagle.

But not from Reah. The answer Reah looks for, according to a Web walkthrough I was forced to use, is 44.

Then, to make matters worse, like Riven and that horrible Base 5 number system, the numbers you use to solve this puzzle are all single characters, which are never explained or offered in a translation. Even the official Project 2 walkthrough they sent me skips over this impossible-to-solve riddle. [Visit the link page at to find some walkthroughs that work.]

Generally, the other brainteasers can be maneuvered through or resolved, although most puzzles lack the complexity to really challenge any hard-edged player. The linear nature also causes problems since one conundrum requires the player to visit the same locations three times before a solution presents itself.

And I’m still a little irritated that a puzzle in which mirrors must be aligned to reflect light cannot be solved based on what the player can see in the mirrors. It’s just a random arrangement.

The environment within Reah appears and sounds very rich, although what the player can see and interact within can be somewhat limiting. I looked at both the CD-ROM and DVD version. Once Project 2 gets the DVD version fixed (it won’t install due to an error early in the installation script) the DVD offers higher resolution graphics. Plus the CD version is on six disks and seems to require trading them out often. The DVD version is two sided and only requires only one flip of the disk.

Reah has phenomenal potential and Reah 2 could be a compelling offering, but only if next time around, the fun isn’t lost in translation.

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