Little Reaper is at its core designed to be a precision platformer. You can run around, jump, and dash left, right, and eventually up. There are also some unique mechanics thrown into the mix including the use of “souls”. Throughout the game you’ll find souls, most of which are green and simply function as collectibles. You then have red and blue souls, both serve as your enemies, and you must defeat them to collect their spirit, necessary to help you progress. Using the soul energy, you can power moving platforms. Similarly, you can turn off the platform to retrieve the soul energy to use elsewhere. There are a few good ideas that work with this. For example, depower a vertical platform, drop it onto a horizontal platform and then power up the horizontal platform to shuttle the vertical platform left and right. Of course, the reverse, using a vertical platform to change the height of a horizontal platform works too. It’s a smart use of the mechanic, even if it felt a little overused throughout the short campaign.
I did take some issue with the soul currency mechanic over time. The reliance on souls means the game sometimes requires backtracking. Occasionally it was my fault for trying to push through challenges and not doing my civic soul clean-up duty. Although it’s still a bit dismaying and frustrating to do some really challenging platforming, then doing it reverse, and then doing forwards again.
The other problem with backtracking is that it, on occasion, brings some of the game’s shortcomings to the forefront. For instance I at one point found myself manipulating a platform by depowering it at the right time to drop it upon a button. Doing so raises the wall blocking you from the door to the next section. Upon going through I was met with the other utility of the red/blue souls, unlocking gates. These are a kind of “did you defeat the guys” checkpoints and I sadly came up a bit short. So back I went. Upon arriving at the previous section, I noticed two things. Firstly the wall was back down, and there was no platform holding the button down. I found myself locked out of the previous areas, and as such I could not progress. This also was the first time I realised there was no way to return to an earlier checkpoint. I had to go to the map and restart the whole level, wiping a significant portion of my progress up to that point. It was an annoying and frustrating moment.
Little Reaper also introduces teleporting. It’s a simple system but an effective one. Tap to throw your scythe, tap again during its arc to teleport to it. It’s an interesting mechanic that caused internal debate over whether or not I fully liked it, but I think overall it was good. I felt a bit on edge because you don’t have a lot of control over your scythe. Each throw is at a set angle, and a set power. As much as I might debate this not “feeling right” and getting frustrated during the moments where I wanted more control, I’ll admit it did make the mechanic consistent.