Rachel’s Retreat gives off good karma.
The basic premise of Rachel’s Retreat clearly reminds one of the Sally series, although similarities remain superficial. Rachel has made some bad experiences with various spas and decides to open her own. What might be a slightly complicated and hasty action in real life certainly works out perfectly in the game. Rachel quickly finds an appropriate location for her first spa, and a helpful friend in Sven.
Rachel’s Retreatfeatures 50 levels and five different locations. You are also able to obtain trophies, which is always a welcome motivating bonus. It is also not that big of a deal that there is only one game mode, because the 50 levels will keep you busy for quite a while, and the replay value is very high, too, due to two different so-called “Guru Awards” that you can achieve after each level.
Those two goals always consist of earning a specific amount of karma, which serves as coins to upgrade your spas at the same time, and to make a number of customers hit a state of nirvana by satisfying their needs, which is represented by a purple aura shining above their heads. This aura also tells you the current need of any customer by showing a symbol that hopefully matches the symbol of one of your stations.
To satisfy a need you have to first click the customer, and after that on the station he or she prefers. Sometimes this might be a specific station, while on other times it might only be a certain group of stations. If it happens that a customer demands a station that you currently do not offer, there fortunately is a machine that allows you to change the need. By satisfying needs and sending customers with purple auras to the nirvana room you earn karma, respectively coins, which you can then use to improve, enhance, and upgrade your spa.
The system of changing your spa probably is the most interesting and fresh aspect of Rachel’s Retreat, and is even more fun while offering a lot of depth and strategic possibilities than it might sound at first. In contrast to most games of the genre you can only spend your coins while playing. This means you not only have to take care of the clients, you also have to constantly watch your amount of karma and see what improvements might be most important in the long run.
Rachel’s Retreat also features another way of earning karma. On a regular basis pink crystals will appear at any place in your spas, and by clicking them you can earn additional karma. Also, customers might fall asleep, get hurt or demand help at a station, or stations get dirty and damaged. There will barely be a moment, but fortunately the game rarely gets frustrating, and the controls work very well to our relief.
One aspect of the game that becomes repetitive and slightly annoying in the long run is the “nirvana room” mini-game at the end of each level, but it is possible to skip it, and the bonus coins you can earn are not decisive or that big of an advantage when you advance in the game. Basically you have to seat all your clients that entered the nirvana room during that level according to their preferences, somewhat resembling the seating mechanic in the Wedding Dash series. It is kind of fun for a short time, but some different mini-games throughout the game might have been a good idea.
What is really impressive about Rachel’s Retreat are the outstanding graphics and animations. The movements of your clients and workers look quite realistic, which is certainly not the norm when it comes to time management games. Every spa features amazing details, and the game looks more polished than most releases we have seen over the last couple of weeks. Combined with well-working controls, an engaging gaming experience and a cute storyline there is not much to criticize.
Overall, we highly recommend Rachel’s Retreat to all fans of the genre and newcomers alike. The graphics and the way you improve your spa are enough to distinguish this new release from older, similar titles, and apart from some minor flaws the game presents an entertaining gaming experience of high quality. We cannot say for sure whether you will hit nirvana while playing it, but you will enjoy it without a doubt.