It always takes moxie to craft a unique gaming experience. Von Sottendorff's adventure combines sliding tile puzzles and 3D platforming gameplay in an interesting and trippy world but is it worth taking enough substances to enjoy the ride?
Baron Von Sottendorff is losing his mind. Our story begins with him hearing strange voices who tell him not to do things. Of course, as a gamer you'll automatically do the things that you're told not to do. You'll quickly realise that this is actually the tutorial. Throughout my decades of gaming, I've never come across a tutorial that tells you not to play the game. After being told not to run around the table then running around the table like the lunatic you are, it's time to start the adventure. Upon beginning the very first level, you'll grasp the mechanics almost immediately. Basically, you use the bottom screen to slide rooms around and try to line up doorways so you can fully explore each 3D multi-room puzzle-filled stage. It's an impressive concept that delighted me right off the bat but my enthusiasm refused to stay justified for long.
Graphically, The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind appears as strange as you'd expect. Mr. Sottendorff looks like a goofball as he lumbers awkwardly around and creepily jitters in celebration at the end of each stage. When you factor in the voices in his head, you're bound to laugh out loud at the sheer absurdity of it all at least once in a while. However, the concept of recovering his memories before he goes completely insane actually spawns some truly touching moments that bring the overall odd story back down to Earth. Each stage includes five collectable memories that you can use to unlock movies and images. These are fun to collect so replaying stages to gather them all is often an enjoyable endeavor. In the end, this tale manages to remain both silly and intriguing.
Seeing as everything seems fairly decent so far, how could it go wrong? First of all, the camera is absolutely terrible. You can control it with the directional buttons, but being forced to constantly make adjustments as you play is not fun. Besides, there are moments when you just can't move the camera to a position where you can clearly make out your surroundings. For example, being trapped behind some obstacles can result in you having to retry the level entirely if you can't figure out how to break free. After a while, you get used to constantly making camera adjustments but the controls are still problematic. Watching Von Sottendorff accidentally fall from atop a complex structure that required concentration and expert platforming skills to ascend will make your blood boil.
Just trying to work through every stage is tricky on its own but then they start to introduce an occasional timer and it all goes downhill from there. Early timed levels are simply laid out to streamline the gameplay. However, later on you'll encounter large levels with complex puzzles that take way too long to work through. The most frustrating issue is that you have to memorize how to master these levels as efficiently as possible. You'll make it a bit further on each attempt but replaying a level over and over again just to memorize how to do it isn't fun at all. If the developers allowed you to practice these levels without a timer so you can decide when you're confident enough to challenge it then that would have been acceptable. Instead, these levels will drive you crazier than the Baron himself.
The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind is a promising title but it simply isn't polished enough to be a wholly enjoyable puzzle platformer. If you're in the mood to enter a strange and memorable world then you should give it a go but just be prepared to lose your sanity in the process.
- + Unique concept makes a good first impression
- + Hilarious and strange world will appeal to those with an absurd sense of humour
- + Satisfying collectables to find
- - Awful camera frequently obscures gameplay
- - Poor controls make you fumble constantly
- - Timed levels can be incredibly infuriating to the point where you'll gladly quit