Maquette is one of those games that wants to grab your mind, clasp it firmly and, like a circus strongman with a penny, fold it over on itself. It's a first-person puzzle game which, much like Portal or Antichamber, takes the laws of physics and staples a cheeky addendum to it. In this case, recursion.
Okay, recursion. This is going to require a degree of rushed exposition usually not experienced outside of Christopher Nolan movies.
Maquette's levels are formed in a cross shape with four buildings at each compass point and a large dome in the centre, like the roof of an especially ornate merry-go-round. Step inside and you'll find a smaller replica of the level you're standing in, a model village withwhat elsea miniature dome at the centre. Back outside, if you look up at the curved sky, you'll realise you're inside a dome too. Beyond that dome, if you squint at the horizon, you'll just about make out the enormous pillars holding up yet another dome, and the fuzzy shadow of another beyond that one. It's domes all the way down, and all the way upand vitally, every single action you make is reflected along the entire chain.
Say you're presented with the most quintessential of videogame items: a lock and key. Except the key is tiny, the kind Sylvanian Families use to secure their dollhouse homes. Try and put it inside this stubbornly normal-sized lock and it'll just wiggle around ineffectually. But drop that key onto the wee pavements of the model village, then turn around to that same spot in your world and voila! A normal-sized key for a normal-sized lock.
Next, imagine taking that normal-sized key and placing it into the small world. It looks freakishly large among these tiny houses, right? Now think: if you were to turn around and look outside the dome, what would you expect to see? If you've just pictured the pavements straining beneath the weight of an enormous key, then good work: now you're thinking with recursion.
You're probably already getting a sense of the puzzles that can be spun out of this. Maybe you take that giant key and use it as a makeshift bridge, letting you reach a previously inaccessible door. But, ahwhen you get there, the door's locked, and the only key in the entire level is the one you're currently standing on.
This is the first big mental leap Maquette asks you to make, and I won't spoil the answer here, but it's important to stress that it really is the firstthe initial hop along the way to a triple jump, launching your brain into the sky. Wa-haa!
"I tried really hard not to do any softball puzzles," designer Hanford Lemoore says, as he demonstrates a couple of early solutions that, I'll admit, helped me get a handle on my own playthrough. After a few easy tutorial puzzles to help you acclimatise to the rules of its world, Maquette quickly starts cranking up the difficulty. "That's the fun of this type of game, I thinkwhere you start off with this world that seems mind-bending and incomprehensible in some ways. And then as you play through the game, you learn how it works. And then by the end, you understand it in a way you didn't before."
So yeah, Maquette is set to give all of our melons a good twisting. But it's also keen to go for your heart, with a story that begins with a meetcute in a San Francisco coffee shop and follows a blossoming relationship. At least, it's blossoming in the early chapters I get to playthe whole thing is being told retrospectively, as your character sifts through old belongings. Which, as anyone with a box of their ex's stuff at the back of a wardrobe will tell you, doesn't tend to suggest things ended happily.
This might not sound like the most obvious narrative fit for a game about manipulating the laws of physicsand it turns out the romance element took Lemoore by surprise too. When he first came up with the recursion concept in 2011, he didn't have a story to accompany it. His early attempts were built around this central mechanic, finding justifications for its existence, whether it was a science experiment or aliens or just 'a wizard did it', but Lemoore just couldn't get excited about any of them. He stepped away, started writing short stories for his own enjoyment. Until one, a relationship story, caught his attention.
So what made him think these two things would fit together? "They didn't," he says. "And that's actually what was compelling to me. That was the spark I needed." It's not an entirely random combination, thoughby the time he wrote this story, he'd already planned out all the game's levels, and was surprised to discover how naturally the two fit together.
He's not saying any more than that, for now, but the world you're exploring really feels like it's being constructed out of that box of memories. You'll visit abstract versions of places the couple went on dates, and others lifted straight out of the sketchbook they doodled in together. The result is like a Disneyland version of the San Francisco setting, the parapets of a theme-park castle overlooking buildings inspired by the city's iconic Painted Ladies and Mission architectureand, of course, a big old nod to the domed Palace of Fine Arts.
The other reference point that leaps to mind here is The Witness. There's a similar painterly style to the visuals, a use of colour that ties together each area's buildings and flora with a strong identity. But unlike on The Witness's island, there's no option to wander away from a headscratcher and try something else. The four spokes from that domed hub unlock in a strictly linear fashion, only giving you access to the locations required for the current puzzle.
With Lemoore's stated lack of interest in ball-softening, I can't help but wonder if there's a risk of players getting stuckwon't that piss on the chips of his carefully-constructed story a bit? "I'm assuming that, y'know, YouTube will be there." He laughs, but admits this isn't a perfect system. "Solutions are easy to come by on the internet, but good hints that don't give away too much, there's an art to creating those."
It's an art he'd like to dabble in himself, but a built-in hint system is more "maybe someday" than a feature on the to-do list. In the meantime, though, Lemoore offers another suggestion: "I always tell people, play with someone else." At shows like PAX, he'd see groups of two or three friends huddled around the same monitor, all offering ideas to the person on the controls. "I actually think that's the best way when you're stuck."
I decide to take him up on this idea. Luckily, I'm married to someone significantly smarter than I am, so I rope her in to be my over-the-shoulder suggestion shouter. It's at this point that the story really becomes a romance, as far I'm concerned. There's no sign of true love quite like finishing each other's puzzle solutions, the half-ideas in each of your brains fitting snugly into one another. With a companion, the difficulty of puzzles feels perfectly pitchedat least, in the first two chapters I have access to.
In the demo, Lemoore gives little teases of what's ahead. He takes us out beyond the reaches of that initial domed sky, at which point everything goes a bit Honey I Shrunk The Kids, and suggests that you'll even get a chance to explore the world outside of that dome. "I think a lot of people do wonder, 'OK, how much can you do with this recursion mechanic, making things bigger and smaller?' Oh, we can do a lot. And even after we've explored that, we mix it up in new ways that people might not have been expecting."
He delivers on that promise with a quick glimpse of a moment much later in the game, where the familiar world has been shattered. The dome is floating in the void, snapped off at all four compass points, orbited by broken-up bits of level. Things aren't looking too rosy for that romance storyor for my own puzzle-solving duo, to be honest, just about getting to grips with the rules of recursionbut it's good to see that Maquette has plenty more ways of folding our brains in on themselves.
Maquette is launching on Steam on March 2.
Go here to read the rest:
Solve puzzles in a recursive world where everything is simultaneously tiny and massive - PC Gamer
- 11 new Android games from the last week: The best, worst, and everything in between (3/29/21 - 4/4/21) - Android Police - April 4th, 2021
- Classic games like chess and Sudoku are now easier to play on iPhones and iPads - TechRadar - April 4th, 2021
- SwitchArcade Round-Up: 'Dungeon & Puzzles', 'Stick Fight: The Game', and Today's Other New Releases and Sales - Touch Arcade - April 4th, 2021
- The Three Best and Worst Games of March 2021 - COGconnected - April 4th, 2021
- Google Play Pass now has over 800 games, apps - HT Tech - April 4th, 2021
- The Easiest Ways to Boost Your Gamerscore from the Xbox Games of March 2021 - TheXboxHub - April 4th, 2021
- Game of the Month: March 2021's Best PS5, PS4 Games - Pure PlayStation - April 4th, 2021
- This Weeks VR Game Roundup: New Archery Game, Kitchen Island VR - VR Fitness Insider - April 4th, 2021
- Best New Android Games This Week: The Wake, Quick Fire, Dual Summoners, and More - DroidGamers - April 4th, 2021
- It Takes Two review: This is how it runs on PC - Laptop Mag - April 4th, 2021
- Pillars of Active Aging - Old School Puzzles And Games To Promote Active Aging Brain Health - LNP | LancasterOnline - March 4th, 2021
- Tvinnr: Basic tips to help you enjoy this relaxing puzzle game - Pocket Gamer - March 4th, 2021
- Maquette is a neat puzzle game that packs an emotional punch - The Next Web - March 4th, 2021
- Our most anticipated indie games of 2021 - Rock Paper Shotgun - March 4th, 2021
- MonkeyBox 2: Cards! is an upcoming puzzle adventure game for iOS from TheCodingMonkeys - Pocket Gamer - March 4th, 2021
- Play with Gravity in Gravifire on Xbox and Switch - TheXboxHub - March 4th, 2021
- Lovin Games Weekly - There is a new Aliens game on the way - Lovin Dublin - March 4th, 2021
- It Takes Two Isn't Focusing on Replayability, Won't Have Collectibles - GameRant - March 4th, 2021
- The Video Games to Play This Month: Get Tiny with Maquette, It Takes Two, and More! - The Portland Mercury - March 4th, 2021
- 50% Kemco RPG and Puzzle Games on PS Store - GLYFE Nation - March 4th, 2021
- Worst Pokmon Spin-off Games Nintendo Should Never Remake - Screen Rant - March 4th, 2021
- Super Rare Games giving immersive puzzle game Creaks a physical Switch release next week - GoNintendo - March 4th, 2021
- Every Uncharted Game, Ranked Worst To Best | Screen Rant - Screen Rant - March 4th, 2021
- 10 Games We Need To See On PSVR2 That Could Actually Happen On PS5 - TheGamer - March 4th, 2021
- PC Review - 'Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead' - WorthPlaying.com - March 4th, 2021
- The Next Hawks Coach Will Have to Solve the Trae Young Puzzle - The Ringer - March 4th, 2021
- Sponsored: 5 games that make you think like a programmer - Gamasutra - March 4th, 2021
- Inked review - "If only looks were everything" | Articles - Pocket Gamer - March 4th, 2021
- From Portal to Witcher 3: The games people cheat at the most! - European Gaming Industry News - March 4th, 2021
- 5 Best PC Boxing games to play in 2021 - Gameranx - March 4th, 2021
- What Are the Most Popular Types of Mobile Game? | TechQuila - TechQuila - February 19th, 2021
- The Legend of Zelda games ranked! - The Guardian - February 19th, 2021
- Wordsmyth is a beautiful daily word game coming soon to iOS and Android - Pocket Gamer - February 19th, 2021
- Review: She Remembered Caterpillars - Movies Games and Tech - February 19th, 2021
- Artie raises $10 million as it pivots to make instant games - VentureBeat - February 19th, 2021
- Fortnite Creative gets callout for puzzles and platformers - AltChar - February 19th, 2021
- Top 10 games to download and play first on your new Apple iPhone - Gadget Bridge - February 19th, 2021
- Outer Wilds launches this summer on Nintendo Switch - Shacknews - February 19th, 2021
- Steam Developer Banned After Trying to Trick Users About Positive Reviews - VICE - February 19th, 2021
- Global Games and Puzzles Market 2020 Industry Analysis, Key Drivers, Business Strategy, Opportunities and Forecast to 2025 Express Keeper - Express... - February 19th, 2021
- Next 10 Classic Horror Games To Play If You Liked The Medium - TheGamer - February 17th, 2021
- Game stores seeing an increase in new customers since the COVID-19 pandemic - WeAreGreenBay.com - February 17th, 2021
- The First 10 Games Released On The PS2 (In Chronological Order) - TheGamer - February 17th, 2021
- Zynga Expects Its Mobile Gaming Empire to Grow More Than 30% In 2021 - Motley Fool - February 17th, 2021
- 8 Underrated Open-World Games (That Came Out In The Last 5 Years) - GameRant - February 17th, 2021
- The Room 4: Old Sins Is Out For PC, And Prettier Than Ever - Kotaku - February 17th, 2021
- Knight's Retreat Review - Chess but not! - TheXboxHub - February 17th, 2021
- Soapbox: We Were Here, the Free PS4 Game No One Will Play with Me - Push Square - February 17th, 2021
- PS5 : HuniePop 2, another title that joins Twitch's list of banned games - Explica - February 17th, 2021
- 10 VR Games That Don't Give You Motion Sickness - TheGamer - February 17th, 2021
- 10 Things You Never Knew About The Origins Of Tetris | Game Rant - GameRant - February 17th, 2021
- Games of the week: The Medium, Spire Blast, Encodya and Solas 128 - Inverness Courier - February 17th, 2021
- Nokia 5.4 review this ones for the stock Android fans on a tight budget - Business Insider India - February 17th, 2021
- Thorny Puzzle Title Room To Grow Is Coming To PC This Month - Bleeding Cool News - February 14th, 2021
- Imaginative Puzzle Game QV Heading To Steam | TheGamer - TheGamer - February 14th, 2021
- 10 Open World Games That Have No Combat | Game Rant - GameRant - February 14th, 2021
- Schell Games Talks I Expect You To Die 2 And VR's Future - UploadVR - February 14th, 2021
- ConnecTank Is a Multiplayer Tank Battle and Puzzle Game Coming This Fall - SuperParent - February 14th, 2021
- Best Valentines Day games for couples: top titles to play with your loved one - TechRadar - February 14th, 2021
- Outer Wilds And The Best Games That Use Time Loops - TheGamer - February 14th, 2021
- The Most Peaceful Games of 2020, Ranked | ScreenRant - Screen Rant - February 14th, 2021
- Best new mobile games on iOS and Android this February - Metro.co.uk - February 14th, 2021
- PS4 Update: Download This New F2P PlayStation 4 Game - RealSport101 - February 14th, 2021
- The Best Free PC Games of Multiple Category in 2021 - TechnoSports - February 14th, 2021
- The DeanBeat: Has the game industry hit its peak with crazy valuations or just begun its growth? - VentureBeat - February 14th, 2021
- Video game review: 'The Medium' a messy horror game with inventive puzzles - telegraphherald.com - February 14th, 2021
- TouchArcade Game of the Week: 'Knightin'+' - Touch Arcade - February 14th, 2021
- Numskull Games Offers Sneak Peek At Upcoming Titles, Reveals RICO London - TheGamer - February 14th, 2021
- Recursive Puzzle Game, Maquette, to be Released in March - mxdwn.com - February 11th, 2021
- Tackle thorny problems in 'Room to Grow' a plant pushing puzzle game launching on Steam for PC & Mac 25th February 2021! - Gamasutra - February 11th, 2021
- PS5 and PS4 free game bonus: Grab a friend and download co-op puzzler for free - Express - February 11th, 2021
- Somethings Fishy About This Steam Games Very Positive Reviews - Kotaku - February 11th, 2021
- Human Fall Flat Was Originally Designed To Be Portal Meets Limbo - TheGamer - February 11th, 2021
- Tilting Point will invest up to $60 million in user acquisition for Loop Games Match 3D game - VentureBeat - February 11th, 2021
- Every App And VR Game Coming To Oculus App Lab For Quest - UploadVR - February 11th, 2021
- Nuts Review- Hiding Above the Trees, Looking For Squirrels - DualShockers - February 11th, 2021
- A bit about our currently nameless game company, and what we're working on at the moment - Gamasutra - February 11th, 2021
- 'Breath Of The Wild' Reinvented Zelda Games. 'Bowser's Fury' Does That For Mario - Mashable India - February 11th, 2021
- Slipways was the best demo in the Steam Games Festival, but it's gone now - Rock Paper Shotgun - February 9th, 2021
- Move Over, Mother 3 - THESE Nintendo Games Should Be Localized Too - CBR - Comic Book Resources - February 9th, 2021