A welcome surprise to PlayStation Plus’ March 2021 free games, I was able to get my hands on Maquette a few days prior to launch. Unique puzzle games seem to find their way into my hands and Maquette is definitely one of the more intriguing ones available right now.
Maquette Review – It Started with Coffee and Sketch Books
Maquette is the story of a Kenzie and Michael. The two meet at a coffee shop, bonding over a sketchbook and a shared love of art. When we first step into this nested world, text rises up to meet us, highlighted by a soundtrack that hits all the right notes. After playing several story-puzzlers in which the story is told exclusively through text, I was delighted when the voices of our main characters rose up from the hubbub in that fated café. Turns out Kenzie and Michael are played by real-life marrieds Bryce Dallas Howard and Seth Gabel. Chemistry oozes from their performance creating a truly enjoyable journey.
Each chapter is composed of four scenes around the outer edge of the gazebo-like structure and a smaller replica at its heart. As you solve each layer of puzzles, another chapter of Kenzie and Michael’s relationship materializes. The awkward meet-cute, getting to know the friends, defining the relationship. All of the steps we tend to remember fondly when we dig through the box of mementos. Even the low points are well designed. Sets are a little darker, dingier. Signs of strain as the honeymoon phase sets.
Not everything is great. Jarring music blares at the most inopportune times, killing the vibe. Considering how fantastic the rest of the audio editing was handled I am shocked no one noticed this prior to release. It didn’t happen just once, either. The second time I rushed to the settings and turned the music all the way down. This could most likely be fixed in an update so let’s hold out hope for that.
Maquette Review – Manipulating Our Mementos
The key to weaving our way through the couples’ history lies in manipulating items that manifest in each scene. Take the red box in the image below. Inside the scaled down version of the chapter it’s small and manageable. However, the version we first encounter in Maquette is far too large for us to lift. Most of the riddles I have encountered so far require moving and carefully placing items inside the miniature scenario in order to discover the secrets of each section.
What I found especially cool was changing the scale of both the items and the world players are exploring. Whether I was looming over the tiny rotunda or crawling up uneven stairs, the whole concept of using these varying viewpoints enhanced my experience. Sadly, there was one aspect of gameplay that fell short: the jump function. You rarely need to jump, but when it was necessary the execution failed nine times out of ten. There’s nothing more frustrating than channeling your inner Mario, climbing up some pipes, and then being let down by a basic function of virtually every video game not working.
Maquette has its issues, but is still a solid experience. The grievances I have can be fixed if the studio has the manpower and time to do so. If you’re looking specifically for puzzle games there are others I would recommend before this. But it’s free for PS Plus members for March 2021, and it’s hard to say no to free.
Maquette review code provided by publisher. Version 1.002 reviewed on PlayStation 5. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.