A Puzzle Game That Gets You Thinking Both Inside and Outside the Box
Maquette is the free PlayStation 5 game of March 2021 for PS Plus subscribers and the game actually launched on the same day! While Maquette is available on PlayStation 4, only the PS5 version is free on PS Plus.
Maquette is developed by Graceful Decay and brought to us by Annapurna, a name often attached to great indie games. As someone who is typically not all that excited by indie titles, I appreciate the peace of mind that comes with Annapurna, as I know I’m in for a genuinely good game.
Maquette is no exception. With simple but impactful visuals, unique gameplay mechanics, and a few truly melon-twisting puzzles, Maquette is an excellent one-of-a-kind indie gaming experience.
Maquette Platinum Review
As you may have seen from Maquette’s trailer, Maquette takes place inside a large dome, which is itself inside another large dome. And at the center of it all, there’s a miniature of the dome and its surroundings. Much like a matryoshka doll, all three instances of the dome are replicas of each other. There’s also an implication that this goes on forever, that you’re in an infinite number of domes with an infinite number of increasingly smaller domes at the center, but you’re limited to just the three; small, medium, and large.
The fun comes about when you realise for the first time that anything you change inside any of the three domes will affect the others too. You can use a small key to unlock the door on a miniature house, and then enlarge that key to use it as a bridge immediately afterwards.
The first moment where I noticed this feature, having not watched any trailers or anything beforehand, was quite a special moment. At the start of the second Chapter “Maquette”, progress is blocked by a large brick block. I picked it up from inside the miniature because it seemed to be flashing at me, a hint that it should be grabbed.
I moved the miniature block out of the miniature completely and dropped it outside of its walls. Then I heard a loud noise, disproportionate to the tiny block I’d just dropped at my feet. I then realised that the huge block that had been blocking my path earlier was now gone.
I picked the block up again and, sure enough… There was an enormous replica of the block I was holding hovering around outside the Dome I was stood within. “This is going to be fun,” I thought to myself.
From this one simple mechanic, the gameplay becomes more and more complex. Not only can you move these items, but by placing them inside the different levels of dome, you can increase and decrease the size of the item.
For example, If you were to place a miniature ramp inside the miniature model, you’d have a normal-sized ramp in the middle dome. But if you take that normal-sized ramp and place it in the miniature, suddenly you have an enormous building-sized ramp in the medium-sized dome.
Often you’ll find objects which are too large in this way, such as this oversized golden ticket.
By placing this enormous ticket on the ground in the middle-most dome, you can then go to the miniature model and pick up a normal-sized ticket, which is then ready to be used on a ticket-box to gain entry to the next area.
Running in parallel to these exciting puzzles is a narrative told in two ways. The first is via voice-over conversations between two lovers, the man (Michael) is voiced by Seth Gabel and the woman (Kenzie) is actually voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard. Yes, that Bryce Dallas Howard.
The second way in which the story is conveyed is through text which appears in the 3D space around you as you explore. This text conveys Michael’s inner dialogue as he processes the growth and eventual tribulations of his relationship with Kenzie.
The story is touching and relatable. It’s real. The romance and drama between the two isn’t blown out of proportion or made to be dramatically unrealistic in any way, it’s just a true-to-life, down-to-earth observation of how many relationships unfold and anybody who has so much as dated before will find something to relate to in differing degrees of depth.
On my first playthrough of the game, I was aware of the speed run trophies I would need to earn, but I knew I would be unable to unlock them on my first run without first knowing the solutions to every puzzle, so I resigned myself to the idea that I would need at least two playthroughs, and set out to enjoy what the game had to offer.
I also took note of the 4 miscellaneous trophies, which would ask me to do various things such as jumping to my death in a certain area, or reach a timed door in my first attempt. I made sure to make manual saves which I could then use to reattempt any areas where the misc trophy was particularly tricky.
One misc trophy which had me concerned was called “Crew Creatures”. The description for this trophy says “Discovered Max, Sandy, Sputnik, Balto, Kitsume, Eggbert, Ms. Mayor, Momo, Rara, Dotsie, Pixel, Daisy, Hudini, Muzik, Luna, Prince, Quincy, Trouble, Jazz, Indie, Bill, Cleo, Khaini, & Pablo.”
I don’t know about you, but to me that looks an awful lot like a list of collectibles. I expected I would be looking for these 24 pets all over the game, which would surely require a few extra playthroughs for checking every nook and cranny.
By chapter 3, I hadn’t found any of them. I figured they must be very well hidden, but in that very chapter I found this tiny dog house.
Much too small for me to get inside, but that had to have something to do with the trophy, surely. Later in the level, I found myself in the oversized dome, where everything was much larger, and knew what I had to do.
As it turned out, that was all I had to do. Inside the dog house was 24 portraits of various pets (including a caterpillar?), and the trophy unlocked as soon as I stepped inside.
For the most part, the puzzles weren’t too difficult. I got stuck scratching my head a bit on Gateways as the myriad gems in the stage started to confuse me a bit, but the hardest stage by far was “The Wedge”. In this chapter, you have to use a decorative ramp – or, Wedge, if you will – to access various different parts of the stage.
This stage uses the matryoshka mechanics to the fullest. You’ll need to make full use of all three sizes of dome, and even need to mix-and-match the different scales of ramp.
There were a few stages which focused on story, too, giving you a brief respite from the puzzles to fully experience the emotion of the narrative being told.
One of my favourite stages was actually the last one. In that stage you can pick up and place the dome. This allows you to actually move it while you’re inside it, transporting yourself to parts of the larger dome encompassing you.
In this stage, you’ll need to experiment with concepts like rotating the dome, coming out of sync with the encompassing domes, so that you can see the back of a puzzle you’re facing. At one point, you even need to place the dome at an angle so that you can climb a steep incline inside one of the buildings. It’s all quite trippy.
All in all, it took me about 3 hours to make my way through the game. As I was able to successfully complete the 4 miscellaneous trophies, that just left the speed runs.
Many of these stages were overtly easy to speed run. “The Gardens” and “The Escape” for example have little-to-no puzzles in them, so it’s essentially a case of “How fast can you walk”.
The other more puzzle-heavy stages seem to have plenty of time too, they’re rather lenient, allowing for quite a few mistakes. As long as you know the puzzle solutions (which I obviously did after my blind run) and can keep a consistent pace moving from task to task, it’s pretty easy to complete the speed run challenges with plenty of time to spare.
The one stage which has proven difficult, not only for myself but for others I’ve spoken to, is the chapter “Gateways”. In this stage, you need to use gems to pass through barriers, but there’s one Cyan gem that is causing problems for a few players due to the fact that it glitches quite heavily. This glitch occurs fairly consistently and can waste up to 30 seconds of your time.
Because of that, I had to reattempt the Gateways stage several times. Due to the fact that there’s no chapter select, and I kept forgetting to create a manual save at the start of the level, this meant replaying the first two chapters each time I reset.
Just under 2 hours later, however, I was able to earn the final speed run trophy, and the platinum with it, just as the credits rolled. A triumphant ending to my time with a truly great indie title.
Blind Playthrough & Missable Trophies
Speed Run Playthrough
Maquette Trophy Guide
Use our Maquette Trophy Guide to collect this game’s platinum trophy in just 2 playthroughs and as little as 3 hours. It includes video guides for all 4 of the missable trophies as well as the 7 speed runs needed for the time-specific trophies.
If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let us know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and we love engaging with people over the game we just platted!
You can follow us on Twitter @GetPlat and Instagram @platget where we’ll be sharing updates, screenshots, upcoming reviews and general gripes about the games we’re working on so feel free to follow us or use it as another channel for feedback!