Puzzle games are hardly few and far between on Xbox One, releasing, in one form or another, in rapid succession each and every month. Oftentimes, I take the stance that it takes something unique and in-depth to stand out in the crowd, but after playing Glass Masquerade, I’ve been forced to somewhat reevaluate my thinking. Whilst Glass Masquerade is one of the most simplest games of its kind, on a mechanical basis, it’s also one that effortlessly stands out. The bottom line in all of this? The game showcases that less, is more.
There’s not much of a story to lean upon, and instead, the game relays to you that you’re welcomed to the International Times Exhibition, which is an interactive electronic show. There’s a total of twenty five countries attending this event; Brazil, Egypt, France, Britain, Italy, and so forth. These countries have all brought their own artful designs, but the kicker is, they’re all shattered and fragmented. That’s where you come in. You’re tasked with putting the pieces back together so that you can observe the splendor that each design encompasses.
In regards to the game’s length, there’s no more than a few hours worth of fun to be had here, and with little to no replay value present, that really is all that you’re getting. That’s arguably the one drawback to Glass Masquerade. That, and a minor issue regarding the game’s controls. We’ll get to that shortly. The game is presented to you on a world map, in which each participating country serves as its own level. Many levels are locked to begin with, but as soon as you begin completing them, further levels will eventually be unlocked.
Selecting a level will take you to a single screen puzzle. Here, you’re given a distinctly shaped design that you need to fill. The shards that collectively make up the overall picture are littered to the left and right of the design, and all you need to do is to drag and drop them into their correct places. The game gives you a nice head start on each level, affording you the immediate insight as to where the puzzle’s first few pieces belong, but then after that, you’re on your own and much suss out how it all fits together. It’s simple, but very effective.
Each level is based on a theme that relates to the country that it signifies, but even so, there’s minimal chance you’ll even have a rough idea as to what the overall design is until you’ve made some progress. You see, this isn’t a simply jigsaw-like game. It’s a bit more complex than that. The shattered pieces are all of different sizes and shapes, and don’t really make much sense on their own. Furthermore, due to the fact that each design represents a stained glass window-esque presentation, it makes it all that more harder to suss.
Thankfully, Glass Masquerade isn’t at all punishing. There’s a timer present, but this doesn’t interfere with your gameplay whatsoever. Instead, it simply charts how long each puzzle took you to complete. There’s no ranking system present neither, meaning that you can literally go at this at your own pace. Hell, you can even come out of a puzzle halfway through and dive back in when you’re ready to pick up where you left off. It’s clear that this game was built to offer a more relaxed affair, and to its credit, it truly is strangely therapeutic.
There’s a lot of trial and error involved, but much like outlined above, you’re never punished for making a mistake. The game starts out quite easily, though before long, you’re given some very tricky designs to fulfill. Simple circular designs with a handful of pieces, soon turn into some bizarrely shaped designs with the heaps of pieces. General rule of thumb? Always pay close attention to the shape of your design, the shapes of the pieces, and the imagery that each design and piece relays. Outside of that, there’s very little guidance that will aid you throughout.
That being said, you’ll only know the design of each piece once you pick them up, otherwise, they’ll remain black. Putting another spanner in the works is that until you pick up a piece, its orientation is incorrect. Collectively, this means that until you pick up any given piece from around the screen, you’ll not know what way they sit, or what design they hold. What it also means is that you don’t have to rotate any of the pieces within, they’ll automatically find their alignment once you pick them up. Nevertheless, that’s the overall aim of the game here.
Some may argue that it lacks depth, and whilst that much is true, its hard not to love it for being to-the-point, challenging, and fluid. The controls are straightforward too, being that you’ll move pieces with the use of the left stick, and plug them into place with the A button. There’s a frustratingly unforgivable design choice present, however. The cursor will pick up speed if you hold it in one direction for too long, rapidly sending it off-screen. This means that you’ll need to move pieces bit by bit when you need to use them on the opposite side of the screen.
It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but one questions why this system is in place for a game that encompasses single screen puzzles. It just seems like a silly idea. Nevertheless, when all is said and done, Glass Masquerade is well worth your time and attention, especially if you enjoy the concept. It’s simple, fun, and straightforward, and as a result, quite addictive and satisfying to play. It wont blow your socks off, but it does indeed achieve everything that it set out to accomplish. It helps that it both looks and sounds good too.
Glass Masquerade’s jigsaw-like functionality may indeed look simple at first glance, but in practice, it’s anything but. The game’s clever use of its singular artistic mechanic makes for a challenging, yet strangely therapeutic puzzler. The only drawback is that it’s quite short in length and doesn’t provide much replay value. That said, for a genre that’s rapidly gaining weight, Glass Masquerade effortlessly showcases that less is more.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.