Sunday, December 23

Review: Viviette [Nintendo Switch eShop]

When you’re trying to stand out in the already-crowded Switch eShop doing something a bit differently than everyone else can be a fine path to success. One way to do this is to combine genres and styles together to try to create an experience nobody else has offered. In the case of Viviette there’s an admirable stab at combining terrific 16-bit art with a blend of puzzles, adventure, and a dose of horror in as well.

You play the game as Jules, a young man who went to check out a creepy abandoned mansion with some friends and his sister, Felice. When everyone is ready to leave you notice Felice is missing and go back in to find her. Very soon it becomes clear that she’s become possessed and means to do some serious harm.

The game actually gets off to a pretty promising start, with a promise of some suspense, smart puzzles, and exploration. Unfortunately, as it wears on the horror gets to be more of just an annoyance as the puzzles have you doing far too much walking around to meet objectives. The early puzzles are pretty smart and everything is roughly in the same area, requiring that you explore, remain observant, and do some experimenting. You’ll need to be careful to try to lure your sister away and keep out of sight, but it works pretty well.

As you make some progress though you’ll find yourself needing to leg it out far more, and it’s at this point it begins to feel like Felice is more of a device to prolong the game than to enhance it as you need to deal with her quite a bit and for the most part your methods and her actions never evolve. Mix this with your clues and the details of what you need to accomplish getting a bit more involved and there can be quite a bit of aimless wandering as you try to get your bearings and figure out where you need to go and what you need to do. To make matters worse some of the mechanics of the puzzles themselves, even when you know the solution can be a bit wonky a hit or miss as you try to work them out, again making the process a little more frustrating at times than rewarding.

If you’re down for a challenge and some frustrations, and enjoy the thought of turning out the lights and enjoying some creepiness, it’s not a bad experience. You may find the puzzles to be intriguing but also don’t be surprised if you find yourself needing to hit a walkthrough to figure something out, though that’s not unusual for adventure titles in general I suppose. I just wish its use of horror and suspense lived up to its initial promise, rather than just being something you need to deal with in roughly the same way throughout.

Score: 6

  • Terrific pixel art style
  • It initially shows great promise, mixing some smart puzzles with elements of horror and suspense
  • Some may enjoy the overall creepy vibe the game has

  • There gets to be more aimless walking around trying to get your bearings than is fun
  • Guidance on what you need to do where and how can be tough to find
  • As the game wears on the amount of walking around and continuing to need to deal with your sister in roughly the same way just feels like padding the length more than anything