Monday, February 4, 2019

Review: Glass Masquerade [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While there’s novelty to a typical “digital jigsaw puzzle”, the approximation of an activity you could enjoy as easily in analog doesn’t tend to be terribly satisfying. What it would take to make this sort of game really shine would be to still have puzzles, but let them involve completing images that are somehow unique. That’s what Glass Masquerade has done, trading classic jigsaw pieces for much more varied and intricate shapes made of stained glass. This makes the puzzles far more challenging, but also much more visually rewarding when they’re completed.

The first thing that makes these puzzles a bit more challenging is that you don’t go in with any idea what they look like. You start out with a little bit of assistance in the form of a handful of designated pieces that go along the edge, and you’ll be clued in to their positions with a small indicator. Once those are in place, you’ll need to work out the rest on your own. It tends to be pretty methodical business, flipping over a piece and then trying to figure out where it goes. Thankfully you won’t need to rotate them, as the pieces continue to get smaller and more intricate that would have gotten a bit out of hand. Little by little you’ll then fill everything in and the result will be a spectacular image.

With these very simple mechanics there aren’t many details to stumble on, but I’d say that not everything is quite perfect. In the case of some individual pieces the scaling as you try to determine where things go, visually comparing the piece to the puzzle below it, can throw you off at times. In a similar vein not all of the edges or details quite match up so it can sometimes be a bit confounding as you’ve passed the right spot a few times since your eyes swear it won’t quite match up correctly.

Finally, and perhaps most worth pointing out for people who’d like to play this with a touchscreen, those controls do work but I don’t consider them viable. The issue is having to use your finger the details of the piece you’re working with end up being obscured. Perhaps when you pick a piece it should let you control the piece on an offset so you can clearly see where it goes. Thankfully the controller support is fine, though every once in a while a piece will run away on you due to the way the movement accelerates.

While I pointed out some relatively small issues I’d still absolutely recommend Glass Masquerade to anyone who enjoys playing mellow casual games on their Switch. The artwork is fantastic, the music is calming, and the entire experience tends to make the minutes simply melt away. It certainly won’t thrill you by any means, but it’s an excellent casual experience.

Score: 8

  • Outstanding artwork
  • Challenging puzzles with increasingly-intricate pieces
  • Thoroughly mellowing and satisfying

  • Touchscreen controls functionally work but are impractical as pieces get smaller
  • Some pieces don’t look like they’ll fit in their designated spot due to scaling or odd edge issues