I’ve Played Bad Games
I’ve played a lot of bad games in my life. Sometimes because I was seeking them out in ironic desperation; sometimes because you think it’s going to be a good game, but then you end up like the first weekend audiences of 1998’s Armageddon: disappointed. I happen to be a member of the select few video game players who played Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma. For those out of the loop, it has a 21 on Metacritic. It is, by all accounts, a terrible game. All things considered however, I enjoyed my time with Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma more than with Maquette.
Maquette Feels Sloppy
I’m not sure how Graceful Decay designed something that feels like getting up off the couch after having eaten too much McDonald’s, but they did and that is an accomplishment. The movement feels sluggish, like your character is wearing cement shoes while trying to dance. Every interaction with an object is burdened by the doubt of wondering whether you’re just holding it wrong or you have the solution wrong. At least three times in my short time with the game, I approached a keyhole and pressed the button to hold out the key to be inserted and nothing happened. I, of course, then assumed that particular key did not belong in that particular keyhole. Every single time I made this assumption, I was wrong. It wasn’t that the key was too big or too small, but simply that I didn’t hold the key in such a way that it touched the tiniest cutscene trigger.
Terrible Story Gets Worse
Tell me if you’ve heard this one.
- Quirky girl and quirky guy meet
- Impossibly cutesy Hollywood moments occur
- Less quirky girl and less quirky guy become annoyed by said quirks
- Tension ensues
- A resolution is reached
Sprinkle in an “I’ve always loved you” and you’ve got a template for an endearing, but ultimately overbearing Lifetime movie. Suffice to say, there is nothing unique about the story of Maquette because every element of the plot is so cookie cutter. I can’t remember if I just watched a bad romantic comedy or played this month’s PS5 PlayStation Plus offering (I certainly wish I had just done the former).
Maquette Has One Mechanic Repeated
I was excited to download Maquette this morning. Having seen the trailer when it was initially announced, I turned to my partner and said, “That looks cool.” Boy, was I wrong. Some may say it’s my fault for assuming that the mechanic they shown in the trailer must be expanded upon at some point; for assuming that it would be used in more novel and interesting ways not shown in the trailer to avoid spoiling the game. Those that may say that are correct. It is absolutely my fault for assuming that there would be anything beyond that central mechanic.
Blatant Idea Theft
The game feels like it belongs at a demo kiosk where you play it for five minutes and the visual style sticks out to you for the car ride home. After arriving home, you sit down to play your console that actually has good video games on it and never think about it again. It is shocking to me that this is a studio’s debut game, if only for the fact that they stole the floating written text gimmick from What Remains of Edith Finch, a game with which they share a publisher Annapurna Interactive. Somewhere along the way, someone at Annapurna must have suggested that they use this word trick because it’s blatantly obvious theft as far as I’m concerned.
The top picture is from What Remains of Edith Finch (a game that I rather enjoyed) and the bottom picture is from Maquette (a game which I clearly detest). What is hard to communicate in these photos is that before this text shows up there is sometimes a character voicing the line as it is being typed, but it always appears in front of the world as an object that exists. In What Remains of Edith Finch, it has a beautiful, staggering effect. I was confused to see another Annapurna game with literally the exact same effect down to the typing as it’s being spoke, appearing in front you, hanging in thin air, then fading away like dust. What Remains of Edith Finch is to legos as Maquette is to mega bloks, a deservedly forgotten mooch of a second cousin.
The art style feels like if someone took the buildings from Aladdin’s Agrabah, covered them in paint, and then painted the mess it would make. Like a child approaching their parent with something they drew – They know they should call it pretty, so they do, but they don’t really think it is. Maquette’s world wants to be pretty in that way… that cloying, desperate way. I’m immune to pastel colors being used to communicate emotion at this point, so that’s on me, but also maybe games should just be better.
I’m Sorry, Maquette
I love indie games more than AAA games. They are near and dear to my heart and always provide me so much more enjoyment than their blockbuster counterparts. I love puzzle games, particularly first person puzzle games that play with perspective. I love the vast majority of Annapurna Interactive’s catalog of games and they are a studio that I associate with quality and look forward to announcements from.
I hated Maquette. I think it’s a bad game in every respect and I don’t think you should play it. If you own a PS5, have a PlayStation Plus subscription, and your roommate is watching a TV show that you hate, watch the TV show. Maquette is worth less than the price of free. I guarantee that you will enjoy your time more if you just hunker down and get through whatever your roommate’s watching.