The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and his Square Mind Review - An insane puzzle platformer
Baron Von Sottendorff is insane, believing he is trapped in a grid drawing of his mansion. For the Baron to escape his entrapment, he must recall his memories from childhood up to adulthood. Only then will be he able to regain control over his mind and be free from the prison that is his insanity.
The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and his Square Mind is a puzzle platformer developed and published by Delirium Studios, released exclusively on 3DS on December 17th, 2015. The game has interesting ideas and puzzle mechanics. However, it also has camera control issues that are infuriating. The gameplay also gets very repetitive and offers only a little increase in challenge as the game progresses.
An Insane yet sad story.
The story of The Delusions of Von Sottendorff follows the Baron in his attempts to regain his memories. The Baron's mind has hidden his memories away from him to protect him from his tragic past. His insane mind informs the narrative throughout the levels, relaying it through pictures of memories. The crazed narration can at times make little sense, but as the game progresses, it all begins to come together. The narration of the Baron's mind leads to some moments that make the player laugh throughout the game.
He is an interesting and strange character both mentally and physically. His character is like that of a child who never grew up. He dresses in adult clothing, yet as a child, can not dress appropriately.
The Baron runs with his back slightly arched backward while his arms flail behind him. He is a character that you can't help but love for his childish and bizarre ways and sympathize with due to his tragic past. Despite the Baron being a tragic figure, the story has its happy moments. It is a well-written tale that unfortunately just falls short right at the end.
Like so many other modern games, The Delusions of Von Sottendorff ends abruptly without giving any real closure. The story ends on a strange note that feels wrong for the tone of the game and the Baron's character.
The game has this childish yet innocent tone to it yet the ending felt a dark, sinister and out of place.
Interesting puzzle mechanic but terrible platforming
The game contains a total of forty levels split across a total of eight chapters. Each chapter represents a specific memory of an event in the Baron's life, starting from the earliest as a child. Each level contains a key and a puzzle piece that the player must collect to complete it. The key unlocks the exit while the puzzle piece contains one of the pieces to the memory of that particular chapter.
Once all the levels of a chapter are finished the last puzzle piece is put into place, showing a complete picture of that individual memory. A cutscene then begins telling the story of that particular memory.
The primary puzzle mechanic for the game is the ability to move the rooms contained within each level. To find the key and puzzle piece on each level, the player must move the rooms, which will allow them to access areas of the level that would be otherwise inaccessible. This idea may not be unique to this game; there is a similar mechanic in Kraven Manor. In The Delusions of Von Sottendorff, however, it is done extremely well and is an enjoyable, entertaining and at times brainteasing mechanic.
The enjoyment players receive from the puzzle mechanic is ruined by the infuriating platforming. The issue with the platforming comes from the awful camera controls. The game is viewed as if looking into a room in a doll house through a window.
This point of view means, just like looking through a window, the camera can only move a certain amount, approximately 20-25 degrees. These camera controls stop the player from being able to view an area in full. At times it forces the player to make leaps of faith, hoping to land on the platform they need to.
More often than not, it causes the player to miss the platform and fall, forcing them to got back to where they were. The backtracking can at times consist of moving and traversing several rooms just to get back to that area. Attempting a forced leap of faith can fail several times, causing extreme frustration that ruins the experience. When missing platforms and falling leads to instant death, it only makes things worse.
When a room contains two floors, moving the camera can block off the view completely. The camera focuses on the platform that separates the two floors, making it impossible to navigate. This camera issue often forces the player to use an awkward point of view that blocks their line of sight. The issue also causes problems with enemies. Enemies are often off the screen and catch the player off guard leading to instant death and increased frustration.
Repetitive standard platforming that lacks challenge.
The general gameplay of The Delusions of Von Sottendorff is what you would find in any standard platform game. Traverse each level by jumping from platform to platform, jumping on enemies heads, pulling levers and activating pressure pads. The only difference is that The Delusions of Von Sottendorff has the Baron's trumpet that the player can use.
Players use it for two different things. Certain enemies can be defeated using it, and it is also used to reveal invisible platforms used to reach areas that would otherwise be unreachable. The player can use it up to a total of nine times. Throughout each level there are chests that the player can open, some containing extra lives while others hold trumpets for additional use.
The player must complete certain levels within a time frame, generally three and a half or seven minutes depending on size. These particular levels are more platforming than puzzle solving and can lead to a lot of frustration due to the platforming issues.
There is nothing to keep the game fresh across the forty levels. The gameplay stays mostly the same from start to finish adding in occasionally something new that kills the player. Despite each chapter having new enemies and environments, the gameplay for each does not change.
The difficulty of the game doesn't increase that much throughout, causing the game to lack challenge. Despite levels containing more rooms and obstacles as the game progresses, there is no real difficulty increase. The levels are just that little bit longer and require more moving of rooms.
The only time the game got somewhat challenging was in the final chapter where rooms got considerably more complicated and difficult to piece together.
Getting to the final chapter in the game, however, is a challenge in itself due to how repetitive it becomes half way through.
A reason to seek and collect
There are a lot of games out there that add in collectibles for no reason other than for them to be an additional task for the player to complete. In The Delusions of Von Sottendorff, there is an actual reason to find all the collectibles it has to offer.
Each level contains a total of five photos called memories. Collecting them allows the player to unlock artwork, music tracks and the game's cutscenes in the Extras menu. Each type of unlockable costs a certain amount of memories. Once unlocked, the unlockable is free to view at any time through the menu.
Reasonable visuals and soundtrack create a beautiful atmosphere.
The visuals for the game are certainly reasonable. They are not groundbreaking in any shape or form but certainly not a complete eyesore. The Delusions of Von Sottendorff is a colorful game, full of detailed environments that fit in with the general atmosphere of a memory.
The memories of the Baron's youth are often vibrant in color with a lighter soundtrack while the tragic memories have gloomy and dark environments with a sad or creepy soundtrack. The new environments and soundtrack for each chapter do help while playing the game. Unfortunately with the issues of the gameplay they aren't enough to make the experience a fun one.
The models of enemies are also reasonable. Just like the environments, they are not groundbreaking in any way. They do fit in well with the wacky world that is the Baron's mind, and the changing of enemies in each chapter is indeed welcoming.
The animations of the enemies I feel are a bit stiff but never the less adequate. The issue with having the detailed environments along with enemies is that the game suffers from frame rate issues. Frame rate drops occur when there is a lot on screen at once. The frame drops happen when the camera zooms out more than at any other point.
A game to love and hate all at once.
The Delusions of Von Sottendorff is a game that has some great ideas and creativity. It suffers from repetitive gameplay, lacks challenge for the most part and requires polish. The general puzzle mechanic is clever and well integrated, but the platforming of the game requires some redesign. The biggest downfall this game has is certainly the camera issues and the problems it causes with platforming.
The story is well written and interesting but lacks closure and ends with an odd tone. The visuals, soundtrack, and environments are good, but the environment detail causes slow downs and enemy model animation is slightly stiff. The Delusions of Von Sottendorff is one of those games that for every good feature it has there is a feature equally as bad.
It is unfortunate that the game has such problems. Without the issues, this would have been a fantastic game scoring far higher than it is. With them, however, it turns it into nothing more than an average at best game. The Delusions of Von Sottendorff I feel is not worth the €12.99 price tag it carries, at least in its current state. If you would still like to give the game a try, I would suggest waiting until it goes down in price during a sale.
The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and his Square Mind is available to buy exclusively on the Nintendo e-Shop for €12.99.