Perspective is a funny old thing, and not just because each of us has our own different way of viewing things and situations. In Maquette, perspective is absolutely core to the experience as you need to solve puzzles that exist recursively in small and giant replicas of the world around you, while also uncovering the relationship of the main characters Michael and Kenzie.
The opening of Maquette is lively. Music is loud and engaging as you wander down a path with messages popping through the world. These messages become a regular occurrence, giving depth to Michael and Kenzie’s relationship along with the scenes in which you hear their conversations. This applies to the music too as different songs relay the mood of the relationship.
This opening segment is a visual delight with scenery that really stands out, and it’s a style carries on right through the game. The visuals are not just for looks only as they play an integral part of Maquette, necessary for the puzzles to work in the way that they do.
You will need to pick up and move different objects through Maquette in order to solve puzzles, with a key factor being their placement and size. As an example in one puzzle you need to carry an orb to open areas up, but sometime the orb can be too big or too small. You can hold the orb out in front of you and do a bit of zooming to change the size, but that will not always work.
The other option is to drop the orb in the normal size realm, enter the Maquette which houses a miniaturised version of the environment and pick up the smaller replica. It works the other way as well. You can drop the big version in the small model and see a giant version of orb appear in the world in front of you. These parallel perspectives of the same space leads to some rather clever and head scratching puzzles, forcing you to think outside the box. Or inside it. Or in the bigger box that the box you’re in is inside…
The puzzles start off quite simple with the need to just manipulate objects, but this eventually expands to manipulating the world itself, as well as the main character, venturing into the larger replica of Maquette so you can get into new areas by using small gaps in fences and walls. This leads to some platforming elements, and this is a weak spot for Maquette. The jumping feels a bit too lethargic and slow, making it feel like a chore. There are also moments where the object manipulation is not always smooth, but this is a rare occurrence. There was one small puzzle later in the game that felt a bit too fiddly impeding progress a bit too long.
As you complete the puzzles, scenes depicting the relationship of Michael and Kenzie unfold through sketches while the two characters speak. The voice acting really does feel like it portrays a real relationship, covering the highs of a new relationship, the in-jokes that grow out of that, and the low points. It is not a big story, but the almost personal nature of it makes it much more relatable than most.
You only spend a few hours with these characters but the way the story is told makes you feel invested early on. Yes, Maquette can be beaten in a few hours, with the allure of trophies potentially bringing you back to beat levels in time frames from 5 to 10 minutes.