Violett Review – Alice in WTF-Land
Perspective influences how we see the world. When it is warped, it can affect sizes, shapes, and even our sense of items we see. Everyday materials can become obstacles and hazards when encountered from a new perspective, and traversing them becomes a puzzle to be solved.
It is this altered perspective which punctuates Violett, a new adventure game by Forever Entertainment SA. In it, the titular character is a teenage girl bored at having moved to a country house with her parents. She spies something shiny through a hole in the wall and suddenly finds herself transported into a magical mirror-world in which she becomes tiny. Once dragged into this miniature realm set within the nooks and crannies of the house, Violett must manipulate the strewn-about items within in order to escape back to her world.
The game takes place in a number of bizarre rooms joined by an Escher-like set of stairs. The purpose is to visit each area in order to retrieve jewels, clear rooms, and proceed closer to the evil Spider Queen, who stands in the way of Violett’s return to reality. As far as adventure game premises go, this game is not bad. Violett wears its influences pretty prominently on its sleeve, with visual and thematic nods to Beetlejuice, Alice in Wonderland, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and, for the most, part it works.
As far as gameplay goes, Violett is a standard point-and-click adventure. In order to achieve specific tasks, you need to find items and manipulate environments. The puzzles themselves are generally pretty clever and follow a coherent logic that becomes apparent to the observant. With that, there are some real problems with choices this game makes.
One source of frustration is determining which items are useable versus ones that are simply background. What this results in is a lot of unnecessary clicking on everything, as well as missing out on essential items hiding in plain sight; something that got old in this genre a long time ago. Along with this, there is an unclear sense of what you are supposed to be doing. Granted, it does become apparent as you solve the first couple of puzzles but I definitely spent my first few hours wandering around back and forth trying to figure out exactly what my objectives were.
Furthermore, the lack of feedback causes more issues; understanding how to interact with the game world is very much a trial-and-error process due to a lack of clear information from the game. I’m not necessarily saying it should hand-hold me throughout, but having a quick tutorial about how some items can be clicked on while others require moving the mouse to approximate a real-world action wouldn’t have hurt at all.
Within each section of Violett, there are moments where you need to use the mouse to manipulate an item through telekinesis, or to simply flip something over. On one hand, it’s an interesting mechanic that can potentially facilitate a degree of immersion to what is essentially a slow-moving game. On the other hand, it suffers from sloppy detection which more often than not leads to repetition of mouse movement. This issue exists in most interactive elements of this game, but it is particularly pervasive in these ‘wiggle/push/pull’ moments, and it undermines the novelty of the mechanic by creating more a sense of annoyance than wonder and charm.
Violett is priced at $9.99 on Steam, which is exactly what a game like this should cost. It’s also on sale for 30% off over the holidays, and includes the lovely soundtrack with a purchase; a pretty solid deal. This game has some challenging puzzles, as well as a trippy world that is worth checking out if you are into adventure games. It’s certainly a capable title with admittedly only a few issues, although the problems that do occur stand pretty firmly in the way of finding it truly enjoyable.
[+Visually distinct and impressive] [+Good value at $10] [+Nice soundtrack] [-Poor wayfinding] [-Inexact, frustrating controls]