Maquette’s unusual and mind-bending puzzles will have you thinking outside the box. Game mechanics can be a little frustrating and the story is a little bland but well performed.
Genre: Puzzle, First-Person
Developer: Graceful Decay
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Release date: 13 March, 2021
Maquette is a first person puzzle game centered around three models of a town.
Each town is different in size and you can move between these different sized models solving various puzzles. Each town is connected and objects in one town are replicated in other towns but in different sizes.
Your goal is to navigate out of the seven areas, each representing a stage of their relationship.
Michael and Kenzie meet and instantly a spark is created.
What follows is a relationship in bloom and we watch as events unfold, chronicling the ups and downs of their relationship together.
The attraction started through their love of drawing and by solving puzzles within the Maquette, we see how the relationship evolves through hand drawn pictures and voice overs.
A Maquette is a model. The Maquette represents their kinship; where they met; memorable moments and past events.
There are three Maquettes and each model represents a different size.
By moving objects in and out of each model we can affect the object size and placing objects in one model will be replicated in the other two models but either smaller or bigger. If you drop an object in one model you can often see its bigger or smaller counterpart falling in another model in the distance.
The game is a three dimensional puzzle game where size matters!
By moving in and out of each three-dimensional model it feels like you are getting bigger or smaller, whereas in fact it is just the environment which has changed. You may no longer be able to climb stairs for example, as they are now too large.
The objects in the large Maquette are too big to pick up but objects in the normal and small Maquette can be picked up, rotated and dropped almost anywhere. So, by placing an object on the stairs in the small or normal Maquette could possibly mean you could climb that object in the large Maquette and get up the stairs you previously could not climb.
The game mostly consists of navigating inaccessible areas by making bridges and opening locked doors. It sounds easy but a lot of thought has gone into constructing these puzzles. Once you get the general idea, and you are on the same wavelength of the game, the puzzles become easier and you feel less disorientated.
Walking speeds are affected depending on which model you are in. The large Maquette means you walk painfully slow sometimes, and some environments are quite big so this can take some time.
There are no indicators as to where to go or what to do but there are sometimes subtle hints to guide you in the right direction. Some butterflies flying around a door; a coloured gem; or colour coded doors are all examples of visual hints.
Mostly, you will just be trying to enter buildings to trigger small cut scenes of relationship moments. Along the way, you will see comments by Michael or Kenzie in the form of floating sentences, describing their feelings at the time. These add depth to the story and fill in gaps before the next cutscene.
The visuals are okay. They certainly look bright and cheerful. The cut scenes are nicely done. I like the idea of watching the scene unravel as it is drawn.
The look of the game is secondary to the puzzles but is more than adequate for the type of game.
There are odd sporadic cases of songs bursting into the game. Sometimes, they make sense and add emotional weight to the story but sometimes they feel out of place and distracting. The songs are performed well enough but I’m just not sure they add to the experience.
The object noises as they drop sound awesome. When you hear a massive key drop in the distance it sounds weighty and satisfying.
The voice acting is excellent and sounds very professional with feeling and emotion.
Maquette is a bit of a mixed bag and I would say its current mixed rating on Steam is about right.
It is going to appeal to some people and not to others.
I found the puzzles to be quite difficult. Some of them are extremely clever and do provide you with immense satisfaction when you finally work them out. Others, seem unfair or have their own set of rules which you are not privy to.
The puzzles in Maquette are never explained. I would say Maquette falls in the middle of a traditional puzzle game and something like The Witness.
You are dropped into a scene and it is up to you to work out what to do and where to go. There are visual clues, and sometimes it is obvious, but other times the solutions seem nonsensical.
The game at times encourages exploration but then blocks your passage; doesn’t let you drop items when there is no reason it should; the smaller Maquette can be painfully claustrophobic and awkward to place objects and the walking speed in the large Maquette is very slow. The game can be quite frustrating at times.
The majority of the puzzles are clever, if a bit awkward to navigate. Puzzles are mostly solved by using objects which have to be rotated into place. The camera and the surrounding structures can prove troublesome but with perseverance it can be done.
For some reason, my Xbox one wireless controller caused the game to lag severely although the developers said they hadn’t had this issue reported. I had to use the keyboard and mouse which wasn’t my first choice.
The voice overs are very professional and emotional. The story is just a typical relationship. It wasn’t particularly dramatic or memorable. The songs felt a bit out of place and would sometimes randomly kick in at inappropriate times. I think music could have been used better.
If you are an achievement hunter then a third of the achievements are speed runs which I am not even going to bother with. I can only see that ending in tears!
Maquette will appeal to fans of The Witness or puzzle enthusiasts who like to think outside the box. The puzzles are ambiguous and the rules need to be established before you can solve the puzzle.
The game mechanics can be a little frustrating as you are often navigating in tight areas but it isn’t bad enough to put anyone off.
I was a little disappointed with the story. It was pleasant, and the chapters representing their life together was neat, but the story was rather bland and forgetful.
The puzzles solutions can feel very rewarding when that final eureka moment hits you but the bland story is stark reward for your achievements.
I’d pick this up in a sale if it appeals to you.