Platforming and puzzle games – genres as old as gaming itself. These architypes have spawned the likes of Mario and Professor Layton, Rayman and Portal, along with many other classic games. Combining these genres seems like a no-brainer: each one requiring strategy, manipulation and patience in order to achieve success, and this union is very much at the core of The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind.
The Delusions of Von Sottendorff And His Square Mind: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Delirium Studios
Publisher: Delirium Studios
Release Date: 17 December 2015
Price: £12:99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer/Publisher]
Venturing through Von Sottendorff’s mansion, players must led the Baron through his own mind as he attempts to reclaim his memories. Being a rather eccentric Baron, he has turned the rooms of his mansion into squares. Each square can be shifted up, down, left or right along the touch screen, with the intention being to join the correct doorways with one another in each room so as to progress. The puzzle element of the game thus speaks for itself: aligning the rooms so as to advance, while continually shifting the other rooms in order to make new pathways and collect the various items in each level is perplexing.
Additionally, the game introduces platforming elements within levels in order to shake things up. The Baron can jump, of course – any platformer worth its salt needs this basic qualification – and eventually he can summon platforms by blowing into his trumpet. Throw in warp pads, levers galore and enemies, and each square of the level becomes a mini platformer in of itself. The gameplay is continuously shifting from thoughtful puzzler to typical platformer, and the changing dynamic makes for an experience that is sure to please fans of both genres.
But those looking for anything beyond the expected are in for some disappointment. Although The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind does weave these two genres together nicely, it doesn’t do anything new with this merger. Most levels play out in relatively expected ways, with little thought necessary to align the rooms in the right order. Shifting the rooms around is almost arbitrary during the easier levels of the game, and thoroughly disengaging. The timer for each level is of no consequence, albeit when it counts down on a rare occasion, adding some much-needed speed to proceedings. The threat level in the game is tepid, to be generous. Most enemies can be sauntered around, and those that become somewhat bothersome can be dispatched with a mere jump on the head. With no fall damage and collectables used only to buy bland game artwork or BMGs, there really isn’t much in the way of consequence or impetus regarding levels or collectables.
Adding a whole layer of intolerability upon the game is the audio. You ought to know it might be bad when the game asks you to use headphones, but neglect the game’s warning and you are in for a world of hurt. Poor voice acting and hideous sound effects dog the experience, and the BGM is a lackadaisical affair that just hurts the game, inducing feelings of boredom and tedium in equal measure. This is especially hazardous to the game’s health during the opening few levels. Serving as one elongated tutorial, the entire first section nearly put me off the whole game. For my perseverance, however, I was rewarded with a somewhat more engaging series of levels that failed to produce any feeling in me besides general beguilement.
Platforming and puzzle games – genres as old as gaming itself. If The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind has achieved anything, it has shown how well these two genres can complement one another in this pleasant package. The only problem is: it doesn’t do anything else. There are better platformers and better puzzle games on the market, and this title seems apathetically content with simply having these two gameplay styles in the same game, without actually challenging one another. Indeed, these are two old genres, and so The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind has no excuse for the lukewarm way it has combined the two – I mean, we were pulling levers and jumping on enemies heads back in the 90’s.