Vignettes features a gorgeous minimalistic aesthetic that works out well for what the game is, and a distinctive, placid object exploration puzzle game.
Genre:Puzzle Developer:Armel Jestin
Vignettes is a really cool, toy-like puzzle game that allows you to manipulate objects to create new objects. It’s got a great sense of style and can mess with your sense of perspective, much like an M.C. Escher art piece. It’s not the easiest game to understand or make progress in, but it’s a good time for what it is.
Still life in color
Vignettes‘s gameplay is so simple that there isn’t much of a tutorial for it. The game presents you with an object, and you tap and drag your finger around on screen to rotate it. When you have shifted your perspective on an object just so, it then transforms into another object that you can then try to turn into something else.
All of the objects in Vignettes are stylized such that they are only illustrated by a few single shades of color and the occasional texture, and this is they key to understanding the game’s puzzles. The trick of the game is to tilt objects into a new shape, which allows them to become part of another object. A simple example of this is taking a bowl and turning it upside-down so it looks like a circle, which turns it into a round-bottomed lamp.
If tilting objects were the only thing to Vignettes it could get rather boring over time. Thankfully, there’s quite a bit to discover in the game as you find new objects. There are objects that are interactive and even have some of their own puzzles that you have to poke and prod at to unlock secrets. You can also find keys or unlock new sets of objects to discover.
Some of these puzzles are as simple as taking an hourglass object and flipping it over to prompt a color shift which unlocks more objects. Others, though, can involve having to find a puzzle solution in one object, and then finding another object to input the solution into. This makes the discovery of a new object much more than a passing novelty. Each new object you make could contain the key to solving a puzzle you’ve been stuck on or reveal a new thing for you to try and pursue.
The style and mystery of Vignettes is easily the coolest thing about it, but it can also lead to some frustration. Because of the lack of tutorials or explanations, it can be pretty difficult to understand exactly what its menus do or how–exactly–you can or should interact with objects.
It was completely by accident that I discovered there were puzzles beyond the rotation of objects in Vignettes, and it’s possible that you could pass them by. While I definitely appreciate the sense of discovery that Vignettes creates by withholding information, I think the game could have provided a little more direction in the beginning to let players know a little bit more about how things work.
The bottom line
Vignettes is perhaps a little too mysterious, but that’s a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things. It’s an otherwise entertaining and stylish puzzle game that will definitely mess with your head in a lot of creative and mind-bending ways.