First-person puzzle games are a dime a dozen these days making it very hard for a game to stand out. Maquette serves you up a very unique prospect which the developers describe as a “recursive world”. You essentially have a small model that is a replica of the world you are in. Interacting with the model in some way, such as dropping a block, will result in that block also being dropped, super-sized, in the larger world.
If you are an avid fan of puzzle games, you will find that it is not very often you are stumped by a puzzle. Maquette presents you with such an unusual mechanic that you will need to completely alter your approach to solving puzzles in order to make it through this game. From the moment you solve the first puzzle where you need to increase the size of an object by dropping it between the larger and smaller world, you will be hooked and eager to find out what else the game has in store for you.
The levels are relatively small compared to other similar games but they are packed with so much ingenuity that you will be more than satisfied with the challenges you are faced with.
One puzzle that really stood out early on is a door that has a lock and you have a key. The key does not fit the lock though!? What you will soon figure out is that if you drop this rather large, tennis racket sized key onto the small model of the level, a super large key will fall from the sky in the world you are standing in. Drop this key against the wall on the small model and you have a ramp to climb over the wall in the full-sized world! There are dozens of more puzzles like this that really cause you to think creatively.
When it comes to complex puzzles, the solution should never be obvious but also solvable. There were a few instances, with one real stand out puzzle with a green and red crystal that felt wrong. A solution to the puzzle is possible but it feels like it was an unintended solution based on how tricky it is to pull it off. Even if it is the intended solution, it’s a pretty awful solution to design into a game like this. It serves as a seed of doubt that makes you wonder whether the puzzle is bugged or whether you are just missing something when you get stuck in future.
Puzzles are at the core of this game but to entertain you throughout the experience is a nice little narrative about a relationship between a young couple. The story is more than likely going to pull at the heartstrings for those who have had a relatable experience in life. Even for those who do not relate, it is a nice little story to follow you on your puzzle-solving adventure.
The levels in Maquette are all quite unique and often reflect the tone of the underlying story. It really enhances the story when the level has artistic elements that sort of look like the way the story makes you feel. If that makes any grammatical sense!
Even if the story is of no interest, the levels all have a distinct theme that stops it from feeling like you are stuck in the same place you were in at the start. The artistic style is similar to a watercolour painting. Simple textures that are not overly detailed but combined together create a beautiful world that is filled with colour…most of the time!
The creative and challenging puzzles, clean and colourful art style, pleasant narrative and a really nice selection of audio tracks to accompany the story and level progress really build up a highly enjoyable and unique first-person puzzle game that is well worth picking up.