kritiqal is the pet project of nate Kiernan. Based out of Maryville, TN, Kritiqal seeks to explore games at the intersection of academia and mass-market entertainment.


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Fract OSC - Review

Fract OSC - Review


The marvel of Fract OSC struck me to the point of immobility. Standing within its world of organic sound and breathing architecture, I often found myself unconsciously freezing in place as a dormant level stirred at my approach, erupting into an awe-inspiring display or neon lights and blaring synths that sent goosebumps down my neck. I’d drift into obscure corners and onto meaningless ledges just to see what was there, being astonished at even the smallest piece of a world that seemed impossibly connected and alive.

Playing Fract made me feel alive in a way I haven’t experienced in a very long time. There’s so much energy in the air, twisting its way through structures and along the ground to create a world that feels as if it’s constantly in motion, adjusting and changing as so many wondrous sound bellow through the caverns. Fract isn’t just a giant synthesizer, it’s raw emotion flowing through bass lines and echoing synths that shakes the very floor you’re walking on. Every structure is its own sound, adding notes to the beautifully coordinated melody that grew with every step I took and machine I set in motion.

fract osc pic 1

Fract provides almost zero assistance in helping you solve its humongous musical contraptions, but the way in which each puzzle builds off the last creates a persistent logic that grows with you as you begin to understand it more. Each object is introduced slowly enough to allow you to learn how to interact with it, but Fract never wastes time repeating itself. Instead it seamlessly folds areas and elements into each other so I was always learning something new even when I didn't realize it, each puzzle pushing me just enough to feel stimulating but never overwhelming. You can almost feel Fract diligently holding itself back, clearly capable of so much more but always hyper aware of what constitutes "enough" as it cleanly bypasses the excess of many puzzle games with its extraordinarily tight pacing.

Being at the center of all this noise, attempting to conduct instruments I had barely begun to understand, I was struck by how small and powerless I was when compared to the monstrous amplifiers all around me. Even as I was helping to revive a world which had gone to sleep, I couldn’t shake how immensely alone I felt. All around me were unbelievable sights moving to a soundtrack that was itself alive within these walls, but there was no one to share it with; not a single soul anywhere to be found in this isolating cavern.

The feelings Fract created in me were powerful and complicated. The wonders of its design contrasted with the crushing emptiness I found growing within me the more I played. It filled me with amazement and yet all I wanted to do was cry. What was the point of any of this if it meant spending an eternity in solitude?

Final Word

Fract OSC is everything I expected it to be: clever, gorgeous, innovative, inspired. But I wasn’t prepared for how it would affect me on a deeper level. Without even meaning to I was suddenly examining parts of me I couldn’t make sense of; things I didn’t want to acknowledge or feel comfortable sharing here. It’s an incredible game for so many reasons I’ve sold short here, yet somehow it’s the things I couldn’t see or hear that meant the most.

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Fract OSC was developed by Phosfiend Systems and is available on PC and Mac via Steam.
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