House of Da Vinci Preview

Puzzle games on the iOS are becoming more and more common. Some of them are quite artistic, some of them are far easier than they promised to be. Some lack story and others lack atmosphere. House of da Vinci seems to find space for all of the above within and does so with a style I’m yet to see in any other.

Gameplay

Swipe, touch, tap and turn might sound like simple things to do. Here they are only the start of the process. Through your journey following your master and teacher, da Vinci himself, you will find many small clues, scrolls to read, devices to manipulate. Knowing what you are looking at is part of the challenge. The same is in how to read the clues as your journey progresses.

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The puzzles themselves are very well put together. As they should be with such a maestro behind them. The simple act of hiding a switch behind a panel has both never been so wonderfully done or so cunningly done. Knowing the panel in front of you is one you can move is easy, working out if it was connected to a switch and just what that switch is can stop you suddenly, yet never frustrate you. Not only that, keys and solutions can come in multiple parts. Working out how to put them together and if they are even related can be a challenge.

What helps you through this are the gadgets left by da Vinci to you. These items give you ways of seeing, of moving, of seeing clues that take something from impossible to solved. The path ahead open to you. Your gauntlet is only one of the tools at your disposal. The ability to see the insides of machines and through time are only the start of the abilities you can earn.

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To my surprise, this tells its story very effectively from the get go. A clear mystery already exists and just getting in the door is only a taste of what is to come. The notes that you find feel hand written, left by a man with a clear place to be. A plan to complete in his own time. As well, a cloaked and hooded figure following your progress through the home of the singular Leonardo da Vinci.

Audio and Visuals

There’s one thing I love about this title is that the setting, background of 1506 Italy can really take you there. The library you explore is something that you could almost walk through. The workshop later on is filled with notes and just feels lived in. Not only does it feel lived in, the puzzles are well hidden. In some cases, working out where it is, as much of the challenge as the puzzle itself. The many clues and small pieces loving detailed. You could almost hold them.

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Music here is very well chosen and really builds the atmosphere. While it lacks the obvious horror, aethereal feel of something like The Room. It certainly does not need it. Exploring these two locations can treat your ears to grinds, pops and more as you progressively solve problems. I knew I had solved some puzzles by sound alone.

Multiplayer

Like with other games of this type, multiplayer just doesn’t seem to be needed at all.

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Overall

House of da Vinci is easily one of the best puzzle games I’ve played in a long time. The puzzles are varied and interesting. Rarely was I completely stuck on a puzzle, the game’s inbuilt hints keep you looking in the right direction at all times. It’s making sense of them which is a challenge. I also have to say that when I got stuck, it was just a matter of a slight tilt to work out just what I was missing. Even the math’s geek in me was pleased to see to even a sneaky math problem. One I tormented a pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons group with a good few years ago now.

Written by

Leon Peters-Malone

Old hat gamer who’s start goes back to the Sega MegaDrive and still remembers seeing the Genesis on store shelves. Mainly a strategy gamer, I dabble in most other genres. There’s a long list of stand out titles I want to see come back, Ground Control, Homeworld, MechCommander, a proper send off to the Tiberium world of Westwood’s creation. Also very partial to most things set in space, especially at the fleet side of things. Current gaming gear include the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, PS3 and PC.

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