Calming Exercise

HIGH It was exactly the game I needed, exactly when I needed it.

LOW Getting the final collectible took me far longer than it should have.

WTF It just hit PS4 but it’s already four years old?

Refunct is a tiny little indie title crafted by Dominique Grieshofer offering non-violent first-person parkour action in an abstract city made of gray concrete blocks, slabs and pillars.

Only a tiny portion of the city is above water when the game begins. As the player touches surfaces while walking and jumping around, the grey turns to green to mark where they’ve been. Buttons are scattered around the city, and when pushed, more arrays of grey concrete are brought to the surface for the player to explore.

Controls are simple – move with the left stick, look with the right, jump with one button and duck with another. Defunct seems almost too simple at first, but Grieshofer confidently layers in new elements as the city grows – elevators, Mario-style warp pipes, and trampolines.

The player will also have to use their own intuition to navigate certain areas. There’s no popup that explains wall-running or wall-jumping, but a little experimentation and observation will solve most mysteries.

Apart from simply navigating each area and raising more of the city up from under the water, there’s not much to Refunct other than grabbing a few obvious collectibles meant to get players reaching for the hard-to-reach spots — and that’s absolutely fine. It’s a streamlined, placid, one-sitting experience that’s almost like a form of kinetic meditation.

I played Refunct on a day when I was falling apart from an overload of the chaos and hate in America, and retreating just for a few minutes into this serene, danger-free experience removed from news feeds, shouting politicians and burgeoning hate was much-needed balm for the soul. I heartily recommend it to anyone who is in need of same.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Dominique Grieshofer. It is currently available on PC, XBO, PS4 and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 1 hour of play was devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains no descriptors. This is one of the safest, least offensive games in existence. No language, no sex, no violence… I’d let absolutely anyone play this.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There is no dialogue in the game and text is minimal, seen only in menus and when grabbing collectibles. No audio is needed for successful play. It’s fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable but they are quite streamlined. The left stick moves, the right stick looks around. The R1 button jumps and the L1 button ducks.

Brad Gallaway

Brad Gallaway

Brad Gallaway has been playing games since arcades were a thing and Atari was the new hotness. He's been at GameCritics since 2000. Currently, he's juggling editing duties, being a homeschooling dad, a devoted husband, and he does try to play a game once in a while.

Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:

bradgallaway a t gmail dot com
Brad Gallaway

Latest posts by Brad Gallaway (see all)

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Agree with and appreciate this review, since without it, I would never have discovered Refunct! Really dug the abstract art and music style and think Refunct is a great example of (1) how much mileage you can get out of perfect controls (I can’t remember running and jumping as confidently in another first person platformer maybe ever) and (2) in an era when so many games are wearyingly overcomplicated and un-fun, how refreshing it can be to play something that’s immediately accessible and enjoyable. (Also, it’s the first game that made me think of Jumping Flash! in quite some time!).… Read more »