Reviews - Updated on April 6, 2022

Maquette is reminiscent of a vinaigrette from games that were either made in the same puzzle genre or supported by the same publisher Annapurna Interactive. At the same time, the novelty has its own face, and there are no obvious borrowings here – just obvious sources of inspiration. It is a pity that the developers did not understand what exactly these sources were good for.

And I’m so small

The central idea behind Maquette is the manipulation of the size of objects. We appear in a new place and see houses, gates and other elements nearby. And in the middle of the location is a smaller version of the entire area – with the same houses and gates, only tiny. Later it turns out that we ourselves are not in the largest version – there is one where the buildings are even higher and wider, where the height of our jump is no longer enough even to overcome the first step of a huge staircase.

The objects that the character can carry in their hands change accordingly. Place an item on the road in the standard world, and you can pick up a miniature version of it in the center of the location. Or greatly enlarge an object by dropping it in a small world and picking it up in a large one.

And what would you increase in this way, if you had the opportunity?

The puzzles are solid, and in a couple of moments even excellent, but the idea is not ideally implemented. Firstly, there are problems with control – an object in the hands can get stuck in the scenery or be reluctant to move along with the hero, which is why it is not possible to put it in the right place the first time. Secondly, in the game you start to find more and more restrictions, like invisible walls.

In the episode with energy gates that open when multi-colored stones approach them, for some reason these stones cannot be placed next to the gate. Moments like this, when the developers literally demand to find a single solution, leaving no room for improvisation, look strange in a game whose idea is to experiment with scale.

Maquette game review

At such moments, the recent Metamorphosis is recalled, although it is unlikely that the developers were inspired by it.

But the main disappointment comes in the second half of the game, when Maquette suddenly abandons the idea of ​​central locations and turns into a linear adventure. That level with running around the “gut”, then another level with the same “gut”, but three riddles along the way. By this point, you are already starting to lose interest in what is happening. Either they invested too much money in the first half, or they were just in a hurry, or this is the author’s decision, with which I simply do not agree.

A great idea is simply underexploited, it has nowhere to open up. There is no Portal or The Witness structure here, where the knowledge gained earlier can be useful in the later stages – in Maquette you almost always start the next stage with a clean slate. On the one hand, this is good, but on the other hand, sometimes you are not looking for a solution, but trying to understand what course of action the puzzle designer expects you to see. Either the invisible wall mentioned above interferes, or it is impossible to jump onto some stone, although there are no problems with another object of the same height. And in general, there are few mysteries – sometimes you just need to get to the place and switch the lever, which resembles a walking simulator, not a puzzle.

simple story

It is logical to assume that all these shortcomings are related to the story that is told throughout the game. But the story here is almost the weakest component, and because of it, everything else should not have suffered. What is happening in Maquette is a flashback of the relationship between Michael and Kenzi, a young man and a girl who accidentally met and fell in love with each other. Like many couples, at some point their siblings and jokes are transformed into something else, and the plot tells about all stages of the relationship.Maquette game review

It’s hard to miss phrases – they usually appear where you need to go.

At first it seems that there will be an unexpected turn in history, for which all this was invented. But nothing like that happens – this is exactly the same plot that has already been seen a hundred times in American melodramas with a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. No interesting thoughts, no moralizing, no advice – just, apparently, a very personal story of the screenwriter. It is completely uninteresting to those who have not been in such a situation, and those who have been in such relationships will not see any depth.

Maquette even tries to imitate What Remains of Edith Finch by putting graffiti on the walls that talk about the relationship of the characters and Michael’s thoughts. But when the plot itself is too superficial, such techniques do not work. In terms of narrative quality, there’s a huge gulf between this game and Edith Finch.

Partially impressions are spoiled by acting. It seems that both main characters are voiced by professional actors, and in reality they are husband and wife, but in places everything sounds so feigned and false, as if you are listening to an audio recording of a bad theatrical production. Whether this is due to the fact that the sound seems to play separately from what is happening on the screen, or the point is the pace of the narrative and the unconvincing plot. At some point, events begin to develop so rapidly that you wonder why the relationship changed so soon – you have not even begun to empathize with the heroes.

Maquette game review

In Edith Finch, by the way, the phrases were changed to Russian, subtitles were also made here – also a strange decision.

At the same time, Maquette never ceases to look amazing. A lot of work has been invested in locations that are equally beautiful in all three states. In addition, there are a couple of close-to-genius moments when relationship difficulties are conveyed through gameplay, something that is terribly lacking in the rest of the episodes. However, here these beautiful scenery are just beautiful scenery.

***

It’s very unusual to give a game published by Annapurna Interactive a low rating, but Maquette is more of a blunder than a successful addition to the company’s portfolio. It looks charming, and there are original ideas in it, but the number of shortcomings greatly outweighs. There was hope for a story that at first seems promising, but after the finale, only two questions remain: what did the author want to say and why was this game even made?

Pros: beautiful locations that look equally great both in huge worlds and in miniature ones; good puzzles; great soundtrack.

Cons: the idea of ​​resizing objects is not disclosed; in the second half the game runs out of steam; a banal story that surprises nothing, but which is a lot; strange pace of the story.

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