Déjà Vu Review

Déjà vu is the debut game from Eric Freeman and Danielle Yoseloff, and what a lovely little release it is. While puzzlers where we slide a block to a goal aren’t exactly a new idea, they manage to bring a neat twist to the genre that requires some outside of the box thinking. It’s all over a little too quickly, but while it lasted I enjoyed myself.

That neat twist takes the form of cloning; starting out with one blue block, we can manoeuvre it to trigger switches or push blocks. This isn’t enough to solve the puzzle though, and a press of A sees us reset to the start but with a red block that repeats our actions of the previous turn. It’s a deceptively clever mechanic, and one that really tests the forward thinking skills.

Some levels allow for a pair of clones, further upping the challenge, while later levels have us duel wielding a pair of blocks each turn to be cloned. These are controlled only by the one stick, so it’s a case of moving them in tandem and making use use of the environment to try and get them into specific positions – and that’s all while planning out our moves for the clones!

There are some clever puzzle layouts on show here, with seemingly simple solutions that are actually much trickier in practice. One example near the end I found both clever and challenging in equal measure required a pair of blocks to open a door, then have a pre-planned ‘blind’ set of moves performed before switching to the clones to fill in the gaps and hoped I’d planned ahead correctly. It doesn’t matter which block reaches the goal, which you think would make planning easier, but getting the timing just right on top of everything else meant I needed to have more than a few attempts to get it right.

There are other things to contend with too outside of doors and switches; lasers can be redirected (or even made use of to make a solid, push-able clone), inanimate blocks to push into positions and even the fact that if we make a clone while in motion, when they reach the end of the pre-done inputs they remain in motion. It’s not an expansive rule-set but what’s there is used well, with each of the puzzles feeling wholly unique.

There are little interstitial’s of a story throughout its 1-2 hour runtime, but to be honest these did nothing for me. It adds little to the experience and while I’m sure there’s some deeper subtext that I’m missing, it all felt a bit abstract for abstract’s sake. It was also all over much quicker than I anticipated. Just as the challenge started to build up I hit the end credits.

Conclusion

As debut efforts go, Déjà vu is a great go of it. The puzzle designs are unique and well thought out, and the cloning mechanic adds a great twist to the rule-set that requires forward thinking in ways other titles in the genre haven’t needed before.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Nice minimalist art style
  • Clever puzzle designs
  • Cloning mechanic is great touch
Bad
  • Very short
  • The story elements add nothing to the experience
7.1
Good
Gameplay - 8.5
Graphics - 8
Audio - 7
Longevity - 5
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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