by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Another point and click adventure
I’ve enjoyed a good Point-and-Click adventure game ever since the days of the LucasArts classics Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. The genre was almost dead, but with the advent of Steam Greenlight, Kickstarter and the popularity of the Telltale releases, point and click adventures seem to have become popular again. Violett is another game attempting to make its way in the world of point and click adventure puzzlers.
The game starts off with Violett moving to a new house with her family. Well, new house is probably a misnomer, as the house is a run-down, creepy house which looks as though it could have come straight out of a Steven King novel. Violett looks as though she is a somewhat rebellious teenager with her purple hair and gothic style clothing. Fed up with her parents arguing, she moves into her room where she spots a mouse hole. After placing her hand inside, she discovers some sort of necklace or amulet which transports Violett into a parallel reality where she has shrunk to one-tenth her normal size. It is here that the storyline unfortunately ends.
Luckily, the lack of story is picked up by the marvellous puzzles. The puzzles in Violett are superbly crafted. Early on in the piece, Violett gains access to some sort of telepathy where she can move certain objects from afar – well, she still needs to be in fairly close proximity to the objects. This certainly helps with picking up objects that can be used as aids to solve many of the problems that she faces on her journey. Although many of the solutions are fairly simple, it often takes a little while to work out what is exactly required. As with most games in the genre, each room/location must be thoroughly searched for items that can be stored in your inventory for use later. Without exploring the rooms thoroughly, it may be that you are required to head back to the location in order to search for something you may have missed and now need to complete a puzzle further on in the game.
The mouse pointer tooltip certainly helps, as it gives an indication if something can be picked up and used in a puzzle or placed in inventory for later use. And yes, everything that you pick up will be useful at one stage or another. There is limited combining of items, which makes for easier, more intuitive puzzle solving. The tooltip also indicates places where Violett can walk, characters she can speak to, and entrances to other rooms.
Apart from the inventory items, coloured orbs also litter the peculiar settings, though are often hidden into the scenery. These orbs seem to serve as an Easter egg hunt and nothing more. Collecting them does not seem to alter the game at all, and I was left wondering why they were even included at all. The same goes for diary pages that are scattered around various locations. Finding them gives a small account of various objects and locations, but none seem to push the story along or give an indication as to what Violett is required to do next. Maybe they were just added to increase the number of Steam achievements.
Visually, Violett is brilliantly presented. The locations are vibrant and the presentation of the various miniature settings works amazingly well. The rooms are particularly interesting. A toy room full of classic favourites such as a train and a pop-gun and a library where Violett uses the books as a staircase to reach higher areas. And linking many of these rooms is an Escher inspired staircase room, where you’re never sure where you’ll appear after going through a doorway.
The characters that Violett will come across often seem like they could have come straight out of Alice’s Wonderland or Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Insect creatures such as an ant queen, small animals such as moles and even an evil teapot that will try to burn you with steam unless you distract it round out an oddball cast. These characters will often require Violett to complete certain tasks in order for Violett to continue through the game. Violett will converse with them via hieroglyphic speech bubbles. Usually, they’ll require a certain item in order to let you pass or give you an item in return.
Violett’s adventures in Wonderland
Despite the lack of a storyline (apart from the opening cinematic), Violett does reasonably well in keeping itself interesting. I sense that the developers attempted to make more of a story with the use of the diary pages, but have opted out during development or simply failed to do what they were intending. But the bright eccentric locations and fascinating characters combine well with the puzzles to provide a game that continues to appeal as you progress. There was never a time that I found that I was stuck because I couldn’t solve a puzzle and this helps to keep the game flowing. Yes, there were a couple of occasions that I needed to travel back and forth to various destinations to find a missing item, but these could have been kept to a minimum if I had searched more thoroughly in the first place. And with the quality of the puzzles and the gorgeous settings, I didn’t mind at all.
Great visuals and well designed puzzles
No story apart from the opening cinematic