Heal: Console Edition Review (Nintendo Switch)

The game: Heal yourself: Console Edition
Genre : Puzzle System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, Android and iOS)
Developer/Publisher: Jesse Makkonen | Ratalaika Games
Age Rating: EU 7+ | USA All
Price : US $6.99 | UK £5.99 | EU €5.99
Release date : 16. April 2021

Check out the code used with big thanks to Ratalaika Games!

Healing lets you play as an elderly person solving mysterious puzzles in dimly lit rooms. Although one would expect it, this is not a narrative adventure about this old man.

It is essentially an abstract puzzle. A compact two-hour experience that doesn’t overdo it. Heal cracked my puzzle, but left me wanting to know the rest of the story.

Do I live here? I liked this puzzle, even though it took me a while to get it right.

For puzzle lovers

There are clever, unusual and satisfying puzzles. Most of them are not too complicated. Occasionally, however, there are puzzles that feel too vague or rely too much on tactile precision, but nothing that detracts from the overall experience.

Many puzzles require movements such as swiping, turning, holding, etc. The touch controls are easy to use and are recommended over the Joy-Con controller. In that respect, it’s a great port for a Switch.

I struggled with this, even though I knew what to do.I couldn’t solve this puzzle, but I solved it by trial and error.

Heal: Console Edition Review (Nintendo Switch)

I’ve been unknowingly sliding and tapping on a new puzzle a few times, trying to figure out what to do next. Sometimes the solution was to explore other parts of the room. But often the first task was to find the pieces of the puzzle that I could interact with. Is it the box that opens the real puzzle inside? And then: Can I modify this puzzle now, or does it have to be activated by another puzzle first? Am I not touching the screen properly?

A rare puzzle game that has no frustrating moments. Maybe they don’t exist! So it’s not my fault that Healing has a small handful of frustrating puzzles, one of which had me searching for instructions. The game saves automatically after each of the 6 levels, so make sure you finish the level before you exit the game.

I need a little advice. Hmm. Could there have been fewer steps?

History, or disadvantage.

But what exactly is the remedy? I would like to know more myself! The description on the Nintendo eShop made me expect the game to be about aging and dementia. While this helped create a supportive environment, it also raised my expectations. I had hoped to learn more about the old man, maybe even more about my aging father’s dementia.

I think Heling meant to mimic (perhaps to some extent?) what people with dementia do: the challenge of short-term memory; the need to break down a complex series of tasks into one at a time; the interest in what’s going on. For example, when I occasionally failed to pay attention while playing, I wondered if I should feel what my father sometimes feels when confronted with a laptop or tablet: a panel full of buttons and things I don’t know how to use. And that’s exactly how some of the puzzles feel, even though they’re usually not too difficult.

What’s up? Appearance is all you get.

Heal: Console Edition Review (Nintendo Switch)

But I set my expectations too high for the narrative portion, which seems rather disconnected from the gameplay. Again: Could this all be deliberate? Ultimately, the story is what my own father doesn’t seem to understand: Context, meaning, chronology. The story in Heal is rather vague though, so don’t expect much in that area.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the game explores the themes of aging and dementia in a particularly clear or meaningful way. In any case, nothing less than creating a quiet, lonely atmosphere, punctuated by moments of horror. The music is mostly based on a bittersweet melancholy, but the sense of danger fades from time to time. The soundtrack is excellent and the visual style is understated but pleasing to the eye. So Healing at least has the mood, if not the words.

Sunny Moment and Return to the Witness (another abstract puzzle game).

Heal: Console Edition Review (Nintendo Switch)

Supplement

Frustrated that there isn’t much of a plot, I think Heal holds up very well as a puzzle game. The art, the music, and the touchscreen controls on the Switch are all to your liking.

Conclusion: I like

Heal: Console Edition Review (Nintendo Switch)

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