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I have often said how much I respect Annapurna Interactive. They have made it their mission to release games that are generally far from the norm. Although not all of their titles were successful, such as. B. Speaking Lies, but most offer entertaining and thought-provoking impressions, such as. B. Patentless, Gorogoya and Outer Duck. So when I saw an ad for Maquette, a trippy puzzle game from one of my favorite publishers of the moment, I was immediately drawn in. Now I just had to make sure the experience was as enjoyable as it looked.
The layout focuses on the relationship of a young couple. It is a game in first person perspective where you control one person in a duo. He finds an old notebook while going through her things, and it makes him think about their shared past. The rest of the game is spent solving puzzles while listening to dialogue from your most memorable moments. As you progress, you’ll also see his thoughts appear on different walls and landscapes, giving you more information about how he really thinks about things.
The story takes up about half of the game, the other half is dedicated to puzzle solving. Layout is a recursive puzzle game in which you use thumbnails or layouts to manipulate the size and position of certain elements on the map. Moving objects in and out of the main dome will affect the size of the objects depending on where you move and place them.
At some point you have to go through a closed door, for example. Of course, you need a key to open it. You find a key, but it’s too big to fit in the lock. This way you drop a large key outside the central dome and enter the dome, which contains a miniature version of the map. From there, you can take a smaller version of the key from its corresponding location on the thumbnail map and bring it outside the dome, where it will retain its small size. This gives it the right size to be used in the keyhole of a closed door.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but that’s not all. From there you have to get to the object, but it is located on the top floor of the tower and is not accessible. Or is it? Take the key from the now unlocked door and put it back into the dome structure. You can then throw the key into the main dome and go outside to find a much larger version of this key outside. You can then pick up the enlarged key, return it to the main dome and place it in the facility where there is a piece of the missing bridge leading to your next destination. When you leave the main hub and enter the normal plaza, the key is now huge and completely fills the bridge space, allowing you to cross it and reach your next destination.
It’s a fun and inventive game mechanic for a while, but it doesn’t take long to realize that’s really all this game has to offer. It’s rare to find anything else in an entire game. I was hoping for really original solutions like the ones in Superliminal. However, the layout never makes that wonderfully strange leap, it largely stays in the safe zone of manipulating the size of objects. Most of the puzzles are incredibly easy to solve, although sometimes they have really strange solutions that make them more tedious than challenging.
Still, you can’t deny that the layout is a great game. Almost every set is filled with bright colors and enticing graphics. Towards the end, some levels are almost colourless, providing a stark contrast to the rest of the game and a sense of sadness and loneliness. The use of colorful illustrations to depict the characters in the sketchbook is another nice touch that helps to reinforce the overall tone of the story.
Image aside, it’s the vocal talent that makes this story work. A true Hollywood couple, Bryce Dallas Howard and Seth Gabel each deliver remarkable performances. Their natural chemistry reinforces the belief that two people meet, fall in love, and ultimately fight to stay happy. The same cannot be said for the rest of the sound design. All sound effects are intelligently controlled, and the sounds of objects hitting the ground of different sizes are very realistic. The problem is the soundtrack. Most of the orchestral songs in the background are beautiful and fit well into each scene. Occasionally, however, a normal song with lyrics comes out of nowhere, played so loudly that you can’t help but concentrate on it. It really takes you out of the moment.
Overall, I must say that I really enjoyed my stay at the establishment. It’s a story we’ve all seen before, but the interpretations of Bryce Dallas Howard and Seth Gabel make it easy to identify with. Most puzzles are more than easy, but this is a game where the journey is more important than testing your thinking muscles. Some may find this game too short, only lasting three or four hours, but I find the length perfect. This gives you enough time with the characters to be satisfied with the plot and finish the game before the fun is no longer desired. If you like a good story and fun puzzles, you should definitely check out this layout.
|An absolutely beautiful game with an incredible amount of scenery that changes as you progress.||A first-person puzzle game in which you must manipulate the size of the objects around you to find a solution. Most work well, but some solutions are too obscure. Walking in large areas is painfully slow.|
|Real Hollywood couple Bryce Dallas Howard and Seth Gabel deliver excellent performances as two people reliving moments from their relationship. The music is good, but sometimes there are songs that come out of nowhere and are much stronger than anything around you.||An insightful play that focuses on the telling of a contemporary romantic story. It’s a short game that lasts about three to four hours. Still, this is exactly the right time to enjoy the hat before the single game formula runs out.|
|Last block : 7.5|
Layout is available now on PS4, PS5 and PC.
Tested on PS5.
A copy of the layout was provided by the publisher.
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