It feels like experimental puzzle games have been at the heart of gaming for an extremely long time. From Tetris' 1984 debut to recent games like GNOG and Baba is You, attempts to confuse players in new and unique ways have been plentiful. The latest in this line of games is Vignettes, a mobile puzzle game with a new port on PC. Having you rotate different objects in an effort to transform them into different shapes, does this puzzle game provide fun brain teasers or is it just a roadblock?
The concept behind Vignettes is quite simple. You have one object in front of you at all times. Sometimes it's a phone, sometimes it's a bowl, at one point it's a suitcase. Whatever the case, there's always something. All you have to do is rotate and turn this object until you find the perfect angle where it looks like, and promptly morphs into, something else. Bowls become TVs, lamps turn into fans, I even turned a book into a map. There's a tree that gives a basic idea about how many objects each object can become. This will point you around if you haven't found a certain solution, but it's mostly up to you.
Soon, you'll be doing more than just spinning these objects, as some require interaction to solve. For example, what object a lamp turns into depends on if it's on or off, so shutting the lamp off offers up a whole new section to discover. As you progress, you'll be finding cells in microscopes, pulling keys out of babushka dolls, making the sand flow through an hourglass, throwing socks into a suitcase to go camping, and more. It was fun trying to figure out which objects had weird little buttons and toys that I could play with, and trying to figure out how to exploit them in the most fun ways.
It's a shame then that this doesn't always work great. There are a few items that require pixel perfect precision on exactly what angle you're looking at. It often felt like I could keep hitting that sweet spot and not have things advance as I expected. Sometimes, items start with their sweet spots already selected, meaning the slightest movement will switch you over. It made me occasionally feel cheated out of a puzzle, or miss an interaction that I had to work my way back to. At least this didn't happen too often, but it's noticeable when it does.
Finding all the various items took me about four hours. However, there's also a plethora of secrets to dive into. If you make it your goal to find them all, you can easily double that playtime. The main secrets revolve around a series of lockets, each of which has a piece of a code hidden behind them. Want that code? You'll have to play around a bit. Some are quite easy, like adjusting channels on a TV until you get a clear reception. Others become rather involved. One lengthy puzzle involved me utilizing a compass and map to travel, a camera to take selfies at specific areas, and a book to store those selfies in. If I explored enough I could find a house in the woods where I could harvest ingredients to mix potions.
While these puzzles were a smart break from the regular spinning, they did become occasionally annoying. While the aforementioned puzzles were clever, I eventually figured out a solution. It then became about spending a lot of time enacting the solutions I already worked out. Several of the puzzles just required remembering and switching through a bunch of objects many times, something that stopped being fun before long. Since most of these secrets are optional I didn't mind too much, but it's a bit of a pain if you're going for 100% here.
However, at least you'll be able to enjoy the sights and sounds along the way. The simple and clean art style is fun to watch, and it makes each object stand out. It helps that the use of shaders also makes finding those points where objects will transform a little easier, which is a great use. The soundtrack is often strange, sometimes sounding more like random notes wandering around and switching about with new objects. It manages to constantly entertain, fitting the tone of Vignettes really well.
While Vignettes has its problems, the charm and puzzles go a long way towards making up for them. Even when I became annoyed, playing with each object still provided a lot of fun. Giving the feeling of a virtual toybox seemed like a smart move, and Vignettes pulls it off well enough. I'd love to see more weird puzzles come to the title in the future.
Vignettes' puzzles and charm manage to overcome a few segments that don't work very well.
- Smart Gameplay Idea
- Charming Looks
- Smart Puzzles
- Occasinally Wonky Central Mechanic
- Some Puzzles Drag