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Maquette

Posted by GG Goblin On March - 18 - 2021

A puzzling love story.

 
Maquette is a first-person puzzle game from Graceful Decay and Annapurna Interactive, launching recently onto PS5, PS4 and PC. While PC puzzle fans may have had this title on their radar, the fact that the game was offered for free to PS5 owners may have left many PlayStation puzzle fans who have not made the leap to the newest generation of console passing on this clever title. Well, that would be a mistake as Maquette is really quite impressive.

 


 
First-person puzzle games always have a gimmick that generally carries them through, and the gimmick in Maquette is really fun to play around with. The player finds themselves in a magical world with differently themed areas. The thing is though, in the centre of this world is a perfect miniature replica of the world, and this is where the gimmick comes in. Things that are manipulated in the real world mirror that manipulation in the miniature world, and vice versa. At its most simple, this could mean moving a small object in the model to move the larger equivalent in the real world, maybe opening a blocked route.

 
However, things get much more mind-bending when it comes to transferring objects from one world to the other. Take a small key from the real world and drop it into the model, and it will become big enough in the real world to act as a bridge. An item too large in the real world to be of use can be picked up in the miniature world, in its smaller form, and be exactly what the player needed. It is very cleverly done and players will find themselves moving from the real world to the model and back as they make it possible to unlock new areas and follow the story. It doesn’t stop there though, as the real world could be a model inside an even larger world, rendering the player in miniature, and so on. Throw in coloured crystals that unlock gates and a few other complex ideas, and there are the perfect ingredients for an involving puzzle experience.

 


 
As for the difficulty of the puzzles, they can get quite head-scratching. Maquette is not an especially long game, coming in at maybe around five or six hours, but a reasonable amount of that time will be spent with the player just trying to work out where to go or what to do. It can be easy to bypass an important object, or overlook the possibility of making an object smaller or larger, and the crystals can become tricky as the player may need to plan ahead. It is quite satisfying to finally work out a solution and move the game forward, but getting there could be a little frustrating.

 
Maquette does not exist only on its gameplay gimmick though. Moving it along is a love story that proves to be a great reason to play itself. The narrative has been expertly crafted and follows the love story of two individuals. The player never gets to see these characters, instead being treated to snippets of their conversations at different times in their relationship. With each new part of the story, the characters, who are both artists, complement the conversations with text written into the environment and further artistic flourishes. It is quite magical and really will pull in any player who has been in a long term relationship, making them invest in the journey.

 
The audio work in the game is also quite outstanding, with some really great songs that will have the player simply stop what they are doing and enjoy the moment. The voices of the two characters, provided by Bryce Dallas Howard and Seth Gabel, are so excellently delivered that the two characters come to life and are instantly likeable, further enforcing the players investment in their relationship.

 


 
The visuals are nothing to be sneezed at either. While I am sure that those playing the game on PS5 will be able to gush at the gorgeous visuals, playing on PS4, or PS4 Pro, Maquette still manages to be an incredibly impressive looking game. Areas tend to be colour coded, offering navigation hints, but they are all nicely detailed and themed differently, from the early magical theme park area to the more gritty homes and what comes further down the line.

 
The biggest problem with Maquette is the short length of the game. Given that the discovery of solutions takes up much of the time in the game, once those solutions or locations have been found it would drastically cut down the game time, making subsequent playthroughs even shorter. This will cut down any replayability. Also the wandering around and trying to work out what to do next can get a little frustrating, and the manipulation of objects can be a little janky at times. These are minor issues that cast a shadow over an otherwise excellent game.

 


 
Maquette is a wonderfully unique puzzle game that also happens to have an expertly written story that will keep the player company throughout the short run time. The main gimmick is not seen very often in games, and is great fun to play around with, while the visuals and sound both raise the game to another level. Players who enjoy a story or want to mess around with perspective will have a great time with Maquette. An impressive debut game from Graceful Decay and another great title for Annapurna Interactive.

 

 ★★★★★★★★½☆ 



 

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