Maquette Evaluation: Swish Decay’s puzzle sport is an emotional expertise
If you’re interested in puzzle games that play with size, size, and perspective, then you should definitely check out the new version model. If you’re a gamer who loves a slow, romantic visual novel told in an unconventional way, Maquette should be checked out too. And if you’re looking for all of that, along with overly real writing that gets to the heart of your relationships, past or present, and exposes all of your flaws and stupid flaws to the world … well, Maquette is among the best examples in this one very specific category of games.
Calling it a “game” even feels a little funny, despite being described as a “recursive first-person puzzle game in a love story developed by Graceful Decay and published by Annapurna Interactive”. Maquette is more of a catharsis through highly stylized works of art, a virtual walk through a memory trail full of pleasant and painful experiences, a hopeful path to healing after the crusts have been freed from old wounds. It’s less of a game than an experience. I’m glad I did and advise others to do the same. [It’s also available right now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (free for PS+ subscribers), and PC via Steam.]
Here is the official round-up:
In Maquette with Hollywood stars Bryce Dallas Howard and Seth fork The players, who cast the lead roles of Kenzie and Michael, are invited to navigate memories by exploring worlds in worlds filled with impressive architecture. Each chapter of this modern love story contains unique interactive puzzles as the player travels through a game filled with breathtaking environments, eye-opening moments and an adventure of love, loss and acceptance.
Check out the latest trailer for Maquette to get an idea of the style, girth, and size:
Maquette begins quite harmlessly. The game puts the player in the first person perspective in a beautiful garden of lavender shade watered in the moonlight of San Francisco. There’s little to do here other than explore, absorb, and hear the first of a few specially selected songs – roughly one per chapter or sequence – that are absolutely perfect and mood-setting. The controls are minimal; They can move around freely and look around at will, only aided by a rather weak jumping ability and the vital ability to interact and manipulate tangible objects. It is this final game mechanic that literally opens up the world (s) of Maquette as you explore, be it by turning a key, building an impromptu bridge, or navigating a shattered world via a memory-ingrained crystal ball.
There is a lot of sensory information that you need to ingest while playing Maquette. (If smell-o-vision was a thing, I’d bet the early stages of this experience would be heaven, especially the county fair setting.) The imagery is eye-catching and unique, impossible to separate from the experience itself, yet the foundation The game’s framework story revolves around two young artists who fall in love (played by the real-life couple Bryce Dallas Howard and Seth Gabel). They are in their memories, in a sketchbook documenting their history together, and walking around in a living model of their hopes, dreams and ideas. When everything is bright and shiny and new and whole, it is a wonderful experience. When things are cracked, when decay creeps in, when buildings and sidewalks are neglected, and the sky goes dark, the experience becomes a little more harrowing and heartbreaking.
Image via Graceful Decay, Annapurna Interactive
Yet the puzzles must be solved if you are to move on. As much as I love the style and substance of Maquette, from the blissful beginning to the tearful conclusion, it’s the brilliant use of scales that has captivated me well before I ever got my hands on them. By being able to manipulate certain objects in this world of memory and dream, keys can become bridges (or even ramps, you naughty developers …), crystals can become keys and the hub world of the maquette itself can becoming a kind of transporter to the other side of the world, even if it’s just a simple step or two for your giant self.
If you ever like a sense of awe of stories Gulliver’s Travels, Movies like Honey, I’ve shrunk the kidsor games like GroundedYou will feel the same flutter in Maquette from start to finish. The scale is never mind-blowing, at least for me. The solutions, which in hindsight are often simple, at times frustratingly blunt when trying to solve a problem, are almost always clever uses of the world itself, the objects it contains and the secrets that reveal themselves depending on your perspective. The puzzles are satisfactory, though from time to time they are hindered by somewhat clumsy controls. (And don’t get me started with this jumping skill; luckily, the platform requirements are rather tame and infrequent.) And when you connect the meaningful parts of the story to the objects that have been memorized and manipulated, the whole thing hits you right in the felt heart.
Image via Graceful Decay, Annapurna Interactive
Maquette is that rare title that is more than a game, a unique experience that undoubtedly relies on pain, regret, and hopefully absolution in the real world. It may not be for everyone, but in my opinion the puzzles, the playfulness with perspective, the relationship arc, the art and music, and the variety of level design all add up to a whole that is so much more than the mere sum of the individual parts of the game. Maquette will test your puzzle skills, patience, and maybe even your relationships with yourself or with others, but by the end of the road, I hope you will find that the trip was worth it.
Rating: B +
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About the author
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Author of “The Science of Breaking Bad” by MIT Press | Twitch partner: twitch.tv/drclawmd | Co-host of the podcast “Saturday Mourning Cartoons” | Community Manager for Ironface Studios | Former Freelance Science Writer for Nerdist.com | Former animation editor, streaming content editor for Collider.com | Founder of ATL STEAM
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