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Déjà Vu Review

Déjà Vu from Publisher and Developer Eric Freeman

A short enjoyable puzzle game with a couple of cool mechanics and a very bright background.

A minimalist puzzle game

You need to move your square to the yellow square somewhere on the screen. Its start is pretty simple and can be completed without thinking. After a few levels they start to add new game mechanics and the difficulty starts to ramp up. 

Eventually you are introduced to the clone mechanic. Presumably this is the mechanic that inspired the title. It allows you to record your movements and clone your square. After making your clone it will play your recorded movements. This was a big surprise when we figured out that if you keep moving in one direction and clone yourself the recording will keep moving in that direction. This was one of the coolest mechanics introduced in the game. Overall, the controls and game mechanics are simple and work nicely as intended. 

There is a narrative thread in the game. It is told through text on screen after completing every few levels. We didn’t feel this “story” element really added to the game in any appreciable way. 

The game has a very relaxing soundtrack which helps soothe the frustration when getting stuck on a level. Some of the later levels you will probably end up restarting over and over trying to figure out the solution. Luckily, you can reset the level with the press of a button and get back to trying a different method within a second or two.  

There is the option to enable a Colorblind mode. We love to see developers putting in the effort to make their games more accessible for all gamers. The one thing we do wish is that there was an option to lower the brightness of the background or play the game in “dark mode” as most of the screen is white which can be painful for those with photosensitivity. 

As for replayability options, they added a “Best Time” under each level which gives you the option to replay each level trying to beat your best time. We would have loved to see an online leaderboard to compare your times against friends and strangers. There is also a Player Statistics area that you can see at the end of the level selection area which shows your Total Time and Total Deaths. The total time does not calculate the total amount of time played it just adds the total best time for each of the levels. The game is fairly short and can be completed within an hour depending on player skill. 

Déjà Vu is available on Xbox One and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Liquid Sunshine Review

Liquid Sunshine from Publisher and Developer God As A Cucumber

Fun puzzles. Great story and soundtrack. You might want to wear sunglasses because it’s really bright.

A Graphic Novel and Puzzle game in 1 package

It is a side scroller puzzle with 3 characters that you control; a Monkey, a Horse, and a Rhino. Each character has its own mechanics, strengths, and weaknesses that you will discover throughout the game. Some of the puzzles you will come across require the use of 1, 2, or all 3 of the characters to find the solution. All 3 of the characters need to make it to the right side of the screen before proceeding to the next puzzle or chapter. 

Like most puzzle games, it starts out pretty easy with basic puzzles teaching you the mechanics which it does nicely. The real challenge comes in the later puzzles, which require more and more steps to complete, making you move characters back and forth over the screen and replacing one character location for another when finding out that you need that for a later part of the puzzle. 

The story is told to you in the form of a graphic novel between levels. You start to learn and understand the relationship between the characters all while enjoying the Graphic Novel. This was an interesting choice and done very well. The Graphic Novel really earns the graphic part of its name as it has mature themes including violence, drug use, and crime. The visuals are great and are done in a black and white minimalistic design. They are able to get a surprising amount of detail only using black and white images both in the novel and with the level design. We experienced some eye fatigue caused by staring at the screen with the bright white areas contrasting with the black areas. There’s just so much stark white on the screen it’s like staring at a very bright bulb.

There are hidden diamonds on each of the levels for you to locate. Sadly there’s not much to do after completing the rather short game which can be completed in 1-2 hours depending on skill. Locating missed diamonds or rereading the graphic novel between the levels are the only reasons to replay the levels. We would have loved to see an option to read the graphic novel on its own without having to recomplete the levels.  

There is no voice over work in the game at all, just a really good soundtrack (almost retro feel) and sound effects. The game does a really good job between the soundtrack and effects you almost forget and don’t notice that there was not a single word spoken.   

Overall its an enjoyable puzzler, with a good soundtrack and interesting choice of artstyle. 

Liquid Sunshine is available on Xbox One and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

The Great Perhaps Review

The Great Perhaps from Publisher Drageus Games and Developer Caligari Games

Unexpectedly good story for a cool puzzles game.

2D Side Scroller Time Travel Puzzler

You play as an astronaut named Kosmos. While working on a space station something happens; the Earth as you know it is destroyed by natural cataclysms. You choose to go into cryo sleep hoping to be woken up once it is safe to return home. After 36,524 days (otherwise known as 100 years), you are finally woken up to find out there is no communication with Earth and you have no idea what happened. You decide to make your way back to earth to discover what happened and what is left. 

You travel back to earth with L9, an AI that accompanies you on your journey trying to discover what happened to the earth. While back on earth L9 is able to find one human signature left on the planet. While trying to locate the one human left on the planet you find an old lantern that allows you to travel between the current timeline and the past from before the cataclysms. This is the main mechanic for the game. 

You will come across puzzles and mini-games that will require you to get items that are only accessible in one or the other timelines. Your AI companion will give you hints if you get lost or are having issues finding the solution to the puzzles. It’s easy to spot the items you can interact with as they have an effect that makes them glimmer. At first you might be a little unsure what to do with the item but after a few minutes of doing the wrong thing with it L9 will step in with a hint. Each of the timelines has enemies and objects you will need to avoid. This is often accomplished by switching between them.

The alternate timelines game mechanic is done very well and is enjoyable. This is used throughout the game for everything including solving puzzles, bypassing obstacles, storytelling, and progression. 

The artstyle is hand drawn which is great to see and is done nicely. It reminded us of Valiant Hearts. The soundtrack is great and is a little different depending on which timeline you are in. They did a good job making the music fit the state of the world in the different timelines.

The story is good and takes you to several places in Russia. You get to interact with a few other characters in the past and have real conversations with them. You start to see the relationship develop between Kosmos and L9 throughout the later parts of the story. L9 becomes more than just an AI, she starts to become a real character. 

The game does a good job at making you empathetic toward the characters. Both the writing and voice acting are great and make the conversations and people feel real.

Sadly it is rather short and can be completed in around 2 hours. After completing the story there is very little reason to replay the game.

The Great Perhaps is available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Superliminal Review

Superliminal from Publisher and Developer Pillow Castle Games

Overall an enjoyable 3D puzzle experience. Fun narration and mechanics. Reminiscent of portal but definitely a different take on the 3D puzzle genre.

A puzzle game that uses perception to find the solution.

Superliminal is a first person puzzler. You’ll be interacting with and manipulating objects using perspective to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and work your way through the stages to get to the exit. The game has a few similarities to the first portal game and likely drew some inspiration from there. 

The game does a good job teaching you the basics and giving you ideas of what is possible to do during the introductory stages. The key mechanic centers around relative perspective with objects. There are a lot of optical illusions throughout the stages. Some of these are related to how to solve the puzzles and some are just there to add to the perception bending experience. This mechanic is used very well and can be fun to play around with seeing what you can interact with and how changing the perception or viewing angle alters reality.

There are a number of hidden collectibles across the 9 levels. Fortunately, the level select menu tells you which types you’re missing some of. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you how many of each are on each level or how many you’re still missing. Finding all of the collectibles and secret areas are the only thing that really provides much in the way of replayability since the puzzles and solutions are always the same.

The game has a really great lofi soundtrack which helps keep you relaxed when you get stuck on the more complicated puzzles. They’ve also done a great job with the sound effects produced by the different items. Smaller versions of items make quieter higher pitched sounds while larger versions of items make louder lower pitched sounds. 

Most of the puzzles can be figured out within a few minutes depending on player skill though executing the solution can be a little tougher at times. There are a few puzzles that ramp up the challenge/difficulty and can take a long time to figure out the solution. There are also secret areas and what seem to be red herrings to distract you from the finish line. 

We did run into a few small issues with items glitching or clipping through other objects. We also saw some of these items disappear and then respawn in their original locations. The perspective in the hallways and some of the rooms can also feel a little trippy. One of our reviewers found that their eyes tired quickly playing the game and they needed to take breaks to rest their eyes. 

Superliminal is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

SokoBunny Review

SokoBunny from Publisher and Developer DillyFrame

Cute cartoony puzzle game that offers multiple difficulty levels to fit players’ skill. Very similar to the previous Bunny title with some improvements.

A Soko Puzzle Game

This is a slide puzzle type game similar to its predecessor Bunny Parking. Your character is a big eared, big footed, brightly colored bunny and your job is kicking stacks of boxes around to fill the part of the floor covered in pallets.

You’ll know the stack of boxes is on a pallet when it lights up, turns slightly transparent, and sports a large green check mark hovering over top of it. The boxes will have the same reaction no matter which box is on which pallet so it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got it in the correct location to solve the puzzle/level. 

The graphics and controls look and function the same way they did in Bunny Parking which we previously reviewed here. You are able to customize your Bunny by kicking paint cans to change the color of your Bunny,overalls, and hat. 

One improvement over the previous game is the addition of an undo button. This lets you undo your last box move. It comes in handy when you make a mistake or when playing the very large Maxi levels. Word of caution: If you’re standing too close to the box when you hit undo, it can hit you and knock you right out of the puzzle area.  

There is a helpful training mode in the game with the option to turn on hints which is a good place to start. Sadly the hint option is only available in the training area of the game.  

The game has 3 different difficulty levels; Mini, Midi and Maxi. The differences between these levels is the size of the puzzles and how many stack of boxes you need to move. You can start at any difficulty level you want to, but you always have to complete the puzzles in numerical order within the difficulty selected. As you progress within the levels, the puzzles will gradually get larger and more complex with more boxes and pallets.

The Mini puzzles are the smallest. Most of these can be completed within a few minutes and about 20-30 moves. Midi puzzles are mid-sized. You’ll start to notice that you have less room to move around which limits your available moves. Maxi puzzles are the largest and most difficult. Some of these can take quite a while and hundreds of moves to successfully complete. 

Jumping straight from Level 1 on Mini, to Level 1 Midi, or Maxi is a very steep difficulty ramp. Playing through all 50 levels of Mini first makes for a smoother transition before starting Midi.  

We encountered an issue with some NPC Bunnies getting into the puzzle’s area and hiding behind boxes. If you kick them or kick a box into them they will retaliate by kicking you back. They are able to kick you out of the enclosed puzzle area. Fortunately, there is an SOS button in the menu that will return you to the garage so you can re-enter the puzzle area. Unfortunately, this is never demonstrated or explained anywhere in the game. We figured it out by mistake. This would have been a very good thing to include in Training mode. 

Much like its predecessor, Bunny Parking, if you want a break from the puzzles there are some activities available on the map. You play on the playground equipment, bounce on some trampolines, ride the teacups, or play a game of soccer. It also has the same Buffs available for purchase that they had previously. However, instead of buying them with golden carrots picked up from the carrot patch, you now have to earn currency from kicking boxes while solving puzzles in order to purchase the buffs. Most of the buffs are pretty cheap. The only more expensive ones are the ones that change you from a boy bunny to a girl bunny, or a chicken. All of the buffs wear off after a little while. 

While the puzzles were somewhat enjoyable and the improvements over the last game much appreciated, we can’t shake the feeling that they were really just reusing every possible asset both game mechanic-wise and visual. 

SokoBunny is available on Xbox One and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.