Puzzlers come in all shapes and sizes, but I am hard pressed to think of one whose setting is quite as unique as the one found in Creaks. It seems odd to say, considering the setting is a house, yet this is a house that is far from ordinary and the furniture you move to solve the puzzles is quite unlike what we’re used to in our homes.
Amanita Design’s Creaks places you in the role of an unnamed character who one night discovers a hatch in his house, and as any sensible person knows, if you find a hatch you are obliged to open it up and crawl inside with just a bag and a light. Usually it will lead somewhere boring, but in Creaks it leads to a huge, subterranean world with a very large house in it, and if that wasn’t out of the ordinary enough, that house is occupied by some bird people who have a problem with a large creature destroying their home. As you descend deeper into this world, you’ll have quite a few challenges to overcome before getting back home.
Aside from the bird people and the giant creature, this world is also occupied by guard dogs, goats, jellyfish, and mimics. Every one of these creatures poses a threat to you, as you cannot fight back against them, but you aren’t helpless.
Should light shine on these creatures they turn into furniture. For example, the dog becomes a side cupboard, the jellyfish a globe, and the mimic a coat stand. Unluckily, you lose your light source as you head into the world and must rely on the light fixtures. The lights act both as a way of transforming the creatures found in the house, and as a shield, since the creatures will not step in a lit area.
The puzzles start off quite simple, but gradually get harder as you get used to the mechanics of manipulating light sources to get creatures to move where you need them. This could require moving creatures so they are sat on a switch that may open a door, while others will require you to use the creatures to interact with each other so new pathways can open.
Many of the puzzles are well designed, and you can really appreciate how the team at Amanita Design have put them together. The goat and jellyfish puzzles are real high points of the game, but the mimic puzzles were much more of a mixed bag. As their name implies, mimics will copy your movements, so you must watch your steps to get them in right place, but was frustrating in one instance when you need to climb ladders and jump across gaps in a plain looking brick room. This was only solved through pure luck after ages of trying different routes, and really impacted the pace of Creaks, which flows well overall.
It’s not just what you see that will help you, but what you hear as well. Music plays a particularly important role in letting you know you are on the right path. As you make progress in a puzzle the music will evolve with the addition of a new instrument, for example, and recede if you lose progress as well.
You will find paintings as you explore the house and be able to interact with some of them. For example, in one of the paintings the goal is to make a fish jump through hoops while in another you must avoid detection. They’re worth seeking out and playing to provide a nice break from exploring the crumbling house.
The story is simple to follow, even with a silent protagonist and the bird people not speaking a recognisable language. This barrier is overcome through the use of gestures, painting a story with themes of overcoming obstacles, unity, and getting out of your comfort zone. The visual design lends each part of the house has a distinctive look, though some puzzle environments do look a bit bland.