Like that other game, you unlock locks, reveal hidden compartments, manipulate intricate models and deduce the functions of arcane machinery and Rube Goldberg-type devices of all sorts. The tactile character of the interaction really stands out. Lots of grinding stone, scraping metal and delicate mechanical clicks, culminating with the enormously relieving snick of a turning key.
The pace and quality are more uneven here. If a game like this is working right, it should keep you moving along like one of its own well-oiled machines. You need to be able to grasp in at least a semi-logical way what you’re trying to do at any given moment, even if it takes a little while to wrap your head around. Otherwise the whole thing stalls. That’s when you find yourself clicking in desperation for anything to interact with, randomly combining objects and trying brute force solutions because you’re not even sure whether you should know the answer or not. The worst is when they shoehorn in some tired old standby like the Tower of Hanoi or those awful sliding tile things to fill up space.
Stop it! Nobody wants that. This sort of puzzle should be more of a delight than an ordeal.
There are a few more rough edges here than you’d like but overall it’s pretty well made. The Leonardo Da Vinci angle is perfect for this sort of thing. I’d expect whimsical machinery, Renaissance science and maybe some Italian-flavored court intrigue, and that’s exactly what you get. There’s a nice range to the various contraptions you encounter, from small and playful, like a simulated game of Risk and a model catapult, to more grandiose, like activating a great alchemical boiler that involves, among other things, analyzing a secret formula with a microscope.
A more conventional narrative moves the action along, which was a nice change of pace. The Room was static by comparison, and relied more on atmosphere than dynamic tension. The overtly occult vibe felt as if you were suspended outside of time, whereas this one plays as more of an adventure.
The ending is abrupt and confusing, which is usually a sign that there are more of these on the way; in fact, I think there’s already a second one. Fine with me. Keep handing me weird devices and I’ll keep unlocking em.