Developer: Forever Entertainment
Publisher: Forever Entertainment
Release Date: October 26th
Price as of Article: $9.99 USD, £8.99
At the time this review was originally published, Violett suffered from two significant bugs. About once every minute, the audio would cut out for several seconds as the game auto saved. The other bug was game breaking. This bug prevented used items from being consumed from the bag. After obtaining 20 items, the player could no longer pick up new items for puzzle solving and thus could not progress any farther into the game. Both of these problems have been resolved in an update. Those two bugs severely hurt the original review, so I have updated the review and score of this game to reflect the new changes.
Violett is an angsty teenager from the city forced to move to the countryside with her parents. While lamenting this fact after listening to her parents fight in their new living room, Violett retreats to her bedroom and notices something sparkling from inside a mouse hole. Upon reaching inside, she pulls out a mysterious amulet which promptly transports her into a magical fantasy world inspired by Alice in Wonderland. She immediately finds herself trapped in a cage by the infamous Her Spiderness. She must escape or become a permanent feature in Her Spiderness’s collection. As Violett explores this new, twisted version of our world, she finds herself surrounded by more and more fantastical creatures and situations.
The story of Violett is a relatively simplistic one told in a primarily visual way. Most of the characters express themselves through simple images set inside speech bubbles. There are collectible diary pages in each stage which describes the creature featured in the level, and these serve to flesh out the lore of the world a little better. The story is not the primary focus of this particular game which is fine as that allows players to focus more of their energy on the increasingly difficult puzzles strewn throughout the experience.
Violett features fantastic music which is easy to listen to in its own right. Before starting the game, I sat for 10 minutes just listening to the music on the title screen. The music suggests an element of playfulness while at the same time eliciting feelings of dread and uncertainty in a way that is completely befitting of the game it was composed for by the very talented Polish composer Michal Wasilewski. The songs have a soothing rhythm and a nice melodic flow, and many of the songs feature the piano and guitar. Each of the game’s 10 songs has a unique feel to them which perfectly suits the stages they are featured on.
Visually, the game is stunning. Featuring beautiful, hand-painted, asymmetrical compositions; each of the game’s 17 stages is in a unique setting full of whimsical and interesting set pieces. Ranging from an oversized bathroom with a cat, a mouse and two dog shaped hooks rotating on ropes and a mirror indicating you are trapped inside a mirror world to an M.C. Escher-like environment which can be used to travel between a few different stages; there are a bountiful variety of places to explore. In each stage there is at least one interesting creature present such as a giant blue, one-eyed tea kettle which looks conceptually like the Cheshire Cat. This is truly the kind of a bizarre and wonderfully twisted version of the world which could only be seen through the imagination of a child. It is a surreal experience full of wonder and fear.
Violett’s character model is the most bland aspect of the game’s visuals, unfortunately. With so many great backdrops to interact with, it is a shame that it’s primary character model is so awkwardly animated and lacking in detail.
Violett is a point-and-click puzzle game which features both button controls and full touchscreen controls. I would recommend using the touchscreen controls for this game as they are significantly faster than the button controls. In a way, it has the speed and fluidity of using a mouse. The button controls work fine as well though, so it is ultimately a matter of preference. The easiest way I found to control Violett was to touch the screen to select items as well as drag and drop and to use the analog stick to move her around on the screen.
Violett unlocks psychic powers throughout the game by means of artifacts interacting with the amulet she found at the start of the game. These powers include telekinesis and levitation. You must use these powers to navigate the environments and obtain the items necessary to progress. There are also collectibles in the form of Fairy Dust colored dark blue, light blue and yellow which gets added to a magic meter attached to three of Violett’s four abilities. As you progress, you will find some branching paths which can let you attempt some puzzles in whatever order you would like. However, some items for one puzzle might be needed in a different stage, so you will sometimes need to do some backtracking to retrieve a necessary item and complete the stage.
All of the stages are highly interactive. There are many items in each stage which can be manipulated to solve puzzles and progress Violett on her quest to get back home to her family. You must use every resource at your disposal to figure out how to get through each one of the carefully laid out stages. You aren’t explicitly told how to complete puzzles and must intuitively figure them out. However, this can sometimes be a little too much of a challenge.
Some of the puzzles have indicators to guide you and help you to figure out what to do. However, some puzzles seem to rely entirely upon you simply guessing what the solution to the puzzle is. For example, there is a coo-coo clock set in a tree which you need to change to a specific time in order to activate, but there is no indication on the stage itself to guide you and let you know what time it is. Fortunately, in these instances, there is a helpful hint wheel at the bottom-right side of the screen which you can utilize. In this specific case, the hint tells you exactly what time the clock needs to be set to. In a puzzle game such as this though, the hints should be incorporated into the stages directly a little better and shouldn’t be reliant upon pure guesses when not using a special hint wheel. The hint wheel has four hints for each stage to take you through all of the most important steps of each puzzle, but it is set on a timer with each hint becoming available after a certain amount of time has passed.
Another thing that can be used to help you if you are struggling with a puzzle in particular is the Violett channel on the Nintendo Switch news feature. There are some video walkthroughs for some of the game’s more challenging puzzles present on the news channel.
There was one technical issue I came across regarding the gameplay. The first issue was when needing to move some weighted sandbags across several hooks to find the correct one. Occasionally, after trying to manipulate the bags, they would detach from the hooks and start floating aimlessly, and the only way to fix it was to reset the game. The problem with this is it happened frequently during that puzzle, and if I had gone through the regular process of trial and error for the puzzle, I likely would have never been able to complete it. I would recommend simply looking up the solution to this puzzle because of the technical issue. I will finish this by pointing out that was the only puzzle I came across which suffered from this bug.
This is a very pleasant little indie title. It has great visuals and music. The touchscreen is implemented very well and is complemented perfectly with the standard button controls. Your time with the game will depend on your skill and intuition for solving puzzles of the style found in it. Your first time through the game could take as long as 4-5 hours. Once you know what you are doing, each puzzle can take between 1-5 minutes to complete, so the game could theoretically be completed in as little as an hour. Any replay value the game has would extend from the fact that puzzles can be completed in different orders and simply trying to finish the game as quickly as you can. At $9.99 in the US eShop and €8.99 in the European shop, the game is set at a fair price. If you love point-and-click puzzle games or artistic and wacky worlds, this game is for you. It is imaginative and visually appealing. However, if you aren’t into point-and-click games, this one won’t likely convert you. If you do like this style of game, then it is a solid little indie game to add to your collection.