A superb puzzle entails a fragile steadiness. The right brainteaser ought to go away gamers confused simply lengthy sufficient to really feel intelligent as soon as they attain a “eureka” second, however the answer shouldn’t be so obtuse that gamers wish to throw up their palms in frustration. Maquette fails to strike that steadiness. This attractive indie recreation explores the heady idea of recursive worlds whereas it tells a touching love story, however its puzzle design wavers too far between pleasure and tedium.
Maquette is a considerate meditation on worlds inside worlds. Lots of the early puzzles revolve round a maquette mannequin, which resembles your atmosphere. Everytime you manipulate objects contained in the mannequin, your actions additionally have an effect on your environment. When you place a normal-sized key into the mannequin, a giant-sized model will drop into view on the corresponding location in your atmosphere. Utilizing this mechanic, you’ll be able to create ramps or bridges utilizing on a regular basis objects, or shrink bigger objects to allow them to slide by way of the cracks in a fence. I beloved how Maquette challenged me to rigorously discover my atmosphere and take into consideration how objects can be utilized in a number of methods.
All through this journey, you’re handled to a somber love story a couple of younger couple’s struggles to know and stay with one another. This story is informed primarily by way of voiceover (you by no means really see the characters), however they’re well-performed, and listening to this couple’s cutesy banter repeatedly introduced a smile to my face. Given the heady nature of the gameplay, Maquette’s narrative is surprisingly right down to earth, however the characters and their struggles have been so relatable that I sympathized with their plight.
Sadly, the street to Maquette’s conclusion is bumpy. As a lot as I appreciated Maquette’s recursive world design, it gives a couple of uncomfortable participant moments. Simply because the mannequin in entrance of you is a facsimile of your atmosphere, your atmosphere can be a mannequin of the bigger biomes that stretch onto the horizon. Late within the recreation, you start to discover these giant areas, which suggests you a lot stroll throughout quite a lot of massive, open areas. I beloved the chilling vastness of those areas, however fixing a few of these puzzles requires trial and error, which suggests it’s a must to do quite a lot of strolling. This rapidly grows tedious, and I hated reaching my vacation spot solely to understand that I wanted to regulate the mannequin within the heart of the world, which required an extended march again.
Along with Maquette’s tedious navigation, a handful of puzzle options are so obscure that I needed to scour the atmosphere many occasions earlier than unintentionally stumbling into an interactive aspect. I really solved a few puzzles in ways in which I don’t assume the designers meant, and reaching these options did not make me really feel intelligent; it simply felt like I had jury-rigged my method ahead. One time I even labored myself right into a nook; by the point I had calculated the puzzle’s answer, it was clear that I might now not obtain it. At that time, I used to be pressured to reset the chapter, dropping about half-hour of progress.
When Maquette is firing on all cylinders, it’s a lovely journey by way of a collection of ever-larger environments, and Maquette’s love story is poignant and a bit heartbreaking. Sadly, my interactions with the puzzles have been additionally filled with heartbreak. Whereas Maquette has some missteps, I look again fondly on my time with it. Very like a real-life romance, my affection for this recreation is sophisticated. — Ben Reeves