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Illusion: A Tale Of The Mind

Posted by GG Goblin On June - 26 - 2018

Puzzle platforming in someone’s mind.

The idea of being able to delve into someone’s mind is one that has been used quite often in videogames. While I would imagine anyone looking for adventure in my mind would be sorely disappointed, it really does give developers freedom to pretty much create any kind of setting that they want, no matter how strange and twisted. Frima Studios’ latest title, Illusion: A Tale of the Mind, is a puzzle platformer that takes place in the mind of someone who, frankly, has some issues. It is up to the player to navigate this surreal, and often disturbing, landscape to unravel the tale of this poor soul.

illusion1 (Copy)

Players step into the shoes of a young girl called Emma who quickly teams up with a stuffed rabbit called Topsy to escape from what comes across as some kind of nightmare landscape. At this point, very early in the game, as Emma and Topsy escape from this dark and dangerous area, the impression is not good. Black goo which will cause Emma to return to the last checkpoint if touched, surrounds the paths and occasionally has to be jumped over. The problem is that the environment is so dark anyway, it can be difficult to see this black goo, and the controls are not especially precise when you can see it. It does a great job of creating an unsettling atmosphere, but it is just not that much fun to play through.

Still, it doesn’t take too long to get through this and arrive in the first of three different themed areas. The mind in which the player is exploring belongs to a man named Euclide, and it takes the player through some truly outstanding environments, exploring things like Euclide’s past at the carnival or his time during the war. Illusion is set in 1920’s Paris and is themed as such, obviously with the slightly surreal twist of being set inside a disturbed mind complete with memories.

The tale in Illusion is one of love and loss, and flits between being touching and heart-warming to dark and sinister at the flip of a switch. Little scenes that explain what has happened in Euclide’s life create a well crafted picture for the player. However, the fact that many of these scenes and audio tracks cannot be skipped can be frustrating, especially when the player just wants to get back into the action after already having heard everything the clip has to say. It can also be annoying when the player finally works something out, only to have to wait for a clip to finish before implementing it. It is a really good story, just not set very well into the gameplay.

illusion2 (Copy)

As may have already been somewhat evident from the beginning of the game, the platforming sections in Illusion are not the greatest. While they don’t all suffer from problems with the darkness, the lack of precision in Emma’s movement can lead to unfair restarts. Most of these sections can be muddled through eventually without too much stress. But then the player may come across a section that involves outrunning something, and that is where things get really annoying.

The puzzles, on the other hand, are quite engaging. There can be a fair amount of busy work involved, collecting pieces of a broken mirror for example, but the best of the puzzles come in the form of visual manipulation. Within a single scene, the player will have to twist the camera in order to arrange items into something else, or create a shadow of something using only shapes suspended in the air. On more than one occasion, these puzzles gave me cause to pause and think, which is all you can ask from a puzzle game. Sure, there are other types of puzzles in the game that work, but these visual manipulation puzzles were a highlight and really very enjoyable. I would have been happy to drop the rest of the game and just played with these.

As long as the stunning visual style remained, that is. For all of its faults, Illusion is a very pretty game, with a wonderful twisted view of Euclide’s life. Much like the story, there are times when the environments are beautiful and inspiring, while other times they can be foreboding and even terrifying. The characters are wonderfully created, and Emma moves with the grace of a young girl, which looks great even if it doesn’t work for the platforming elements.

illusion3 (Copy)

Illusion: A Tale of the Mind is visually impressive, tells an interesting story with nice personal touches, and has some great puzzles. However, issues such as the imprecise platforming prevent the game from being consistently enjoyable, and frequent frustration within the five or six hour play time make Illusion: A Tale of the Mind difficult to recommend.




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