Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: Violett


So far the Switch has proven itself to be well-suited to the classic point-and-click adventure genre, able to serve double duty as both a portable tablet and as a home console if you prefer to see things blown up. To this point there have been a variety of offerings that have each had their merits. Violett comes to the plate with some great fantasy art and unusual landscapes, bringing an almost Alice in Wonderland feel with it. Unfortunately, its puzzles are often too obtuse for their own good and that makes the adventure feel a bit more like a chore at times.


What will no doubt attract many people to the game is its phenomenal artwork. While some scenes are more interesting than others each setting is full of color and unusual details. There are odd creatures big and small as well as elaborate rooms and scenes that have a load of nooks and crannies filled with detail. This is a double-edged sword, though, in terms of how the game plays out in function.

The first issue is one of navigation and in figuring out where you need to go and what you need to do. A particular room that serves as a bit of a hub comes to mind. While you can put together where you’ll be able to go with some clicking around intuitiveness definitely takes a back seat to the elaborate, though fascinating, art. The same issue comes up in terms of what you need to do in any given room. A lot of the things that help you progress are flat out unintuitive and subject to trial and error. This can be a bit aggravating and many times even when I’d finally figured out the proper sequence of events to trigger to solve the problems I found the challenge unrewarding because I’d only stumbled through a solution and not truly figured it out myself.


The second issue involves the preferred control scheme being handheld mode (the game states as much as you start it up) and the scale of some of the things the game has you find or need to click on in order to progress. Given the richness of detail in the game’s art there’s a lot to distract your eye and when you couple that with the relatively small scale of some elements on the screen when you play in handheld mode it can be a real problem. What this ends up resulting in is some further degree of trial and error as you’ll see things that look like they could be relevant in the hopes you’ve found or triggered something. There is an in-game hint system but very honestly I found the clues almost as baffling as the puzzles themselves.

The shame with Violett is there’s something interesting about the experience as a whole that I’d love to enjoy. The artwork is terrific and some of the puzzles, while odd, are refreshingly different. That said, the number of puzzles where progression isn’t guided so much by thought and intuition and instead by a sort of aimless string of trial and error shots in the dark make it a bit aggravating and diminish the feeling of accomplishment in making progress. If you can overlook issues like these and want something different give it a look, just be aware of the substantial number of caveats concerning it.


Score: 5.5

Pros:
  • Terrific fantasy artwork
  • Some challenging non-traditional puzzles

Cons:
  • While handheld mode is superior for control the details can get lost at that scale in the artwork
  • Some puzzles feel more like a matter of hit or miss guesswork more than intuitive in their puzzle-solving
  • The hint system is sometimes as cryptic as the puzzles you’re looking for help to solve


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