REVIEW – Delusions of Von Sottendorf and His Square Mind (3DS eShop)

The mind is a curious and interesting part of us and it is not completely understood.  One of the most interesting aspects is its ability to learn and memorize.  It is no easy matter, as it will take dedication and time to accomplish.  Puzzles can be a good way to challenge your brain and The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind can take you on a journey through the mind.

The player will control the Baron Von Sottendorff, and has to help him restore his memories.  He managed to trap himself in a mansion within his mind.  The object of the game is to collect some of his meaningful memories to prevent him from going mad.  I found the story very intriguing, as it would take some serious brain power to trap yourself within your own head.  One of my favorite aspects is when each memory is completed, I was able to learn more about the Baron.  It was presented as a video which was self-narrated and I was able to feel a connection to the Baron’s memories.

The mansion that the Baron is trapped in is structured like a grid.   Each level within the mansion is also laid out in a grid, and the rooms can be rearranged.  It is not as simple as just lining up all of the rooms.  Each room connects to others via doorways, trapdoors or even upward wind gusts.  In order to travel to the next room, the doorways have to match in size and be properly aligned before the Baron is able to travel through.  Since the rooms are part of a grid, there will be plenty of room swapping which happens on the lower screen.  I was going delusional on some levels as I would enter one room and leave through the same door but to a different room.  I found the puzzles to be enjoyable as they are solved by trial and error.

The puzzle aspect is figuring out the correct path through the various rooms, in addition, there is also a platforming aspect.  There are enemies to handle, traps to avoid, moving platforms and hidden platforms which can be revealed by playing the trumpet.  The trumpet is acquired within the first few levels and when played in a room, it will reveal hidden platforms nearby.  It can also be used to defeat enemies.  The platforming aspects would be more manageable if I was able to clearly see where I was jumping.

My main issue with the game stems from the poor camera controls.  At least, ninety percent of my deaths were from being unable to tell if I would land a jump correctly.  You can find additional lives within the levels and when a death happens you are re-spawned nearby on the last platform.   However, after running out of lives you must restart the entire level.  The camera is very limiting as it can only be zoomed out meaning you could see the entire room you are in or switched to an up close view.  The camera can be slightly adjusted to the left or right while zoomed in, but it barely makes a difference.  While the up close view sounds like it resolves these issues, it does not.  I found that I couldn’t really see the 3D space towards the camera and had to make some blind jumps towards the camera.   This would not be an issue if the zoomed in mode turned to a first person view, or if you were able to turn the camera 360 degrees around the Baron.  Essentially the camera is fixated from a particular direction and has little flexibility.

While I enjoyed the variety of puzzles and level themes, there are particular level types that were not as fun.  Within these levels the Baron gets trapped in time, meaning the particular level has a time limit.  These can be tricky as I felt rushed trying to figure out the path or having to use the zoomed out camera.  As some platforms are moving around, I found it best to be zooming in and out while waiting for the platform.  I found that the puzzles are more enjoyable with unlimited time.  I felt that the time constrained levels forced quick decisions.  Combining this with the camera, it can create a frustrating level.  Out of the levels I played, the majority did not have a time limit.

I found the controls to be very simple, with each face button serving as an action for the Baron.  The stylus was used to adjust the grid rooms with the shoulder buttons switching between the camera modes.  I typically did not have an issue when I needed to use the stylus and also be able to use the face buttons.  There is plenty of opportunities to stand motionless while the rooms are being re-arranged on the touch screen.

The graphics are simple and not very polished.  Some of my concerns are the jagged edges of the elements within the levels, along with the lack of details within the environments.  Some areas appear somewhat plain and basic when additional details would have enhanced the various levels.  For instance within the kitchen levels, the Baron will cross over pots and pans cooking food, but the soup lacked details and was generic.  The worlds within the house are creative and all fit together to make a real mansion.  There is the wine cellar, attic, courtyard, study, kitchen and others.  I enjoyed that the wine cellar had a bit of the water world types of levels.  

The music is calm and relaxing yet simple for a puzzle game.  While I really liked the old time radio broadcasts within the levels, the voice acting part was well done.  At times, it was hard to hear or somewhat choppy, which made it feel like the voice was really coming from an old timey radio.  Some portions were loud and clear with others fitting the theme of being inside your head, where some voices are easier to hear than others. I really enjoyed listening to everything through my headphones as this game recommends while loading.

I found the concepts that the gameplay was trying to achieve to be interesting and can see what was intended.  However with the execution of the camera, it made portions of the game more difficult than it should be.  While the visuals were hardly impressive, I did, however, enjoy the audio aspects of the game.  If you are looking for a somewhat unique gameplay elements within a puzzle game, this can be an enjoyable experience.  If you depend on a solid camera or nit-picky with visuals, then this may not be the game for you.

FINAL SCORE: 6.5 out of 10