Waking Violet review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PC, PS4, PS Vita
Publisher: MixedBag
Developer: Marco Mastropaolo
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

I?m having a really hard time coming up with any strong feelings one way or another towards Waking Violet. It?s a quiet, unobtrusive puzzle game that doesn?t do anything particularly well or particularly poorly. In this respect, the game fits in right alongside over MixedBag games like forma.8 (a blandly pleasant Metroidvania), Futuridium EP Deluxe (a blandly pleasant space shooter), and Wheels of Aurelia (a blandly pleasant driving/talking game).

To be sure, there are worse things to be than blandly unobtrusive. To simply not be terrible is a pretty decent accomplishment. And Waking Violet undeniably has a couple of points in its favour, starting with the fact that its puzzles offer players a decent challenge — which, for a puzzle game, is pretty crucial. The game combines challenging layouts with neat mechanics like explosions and clones, which means that you?re sure to give your brain a bit of a workout if you pick it up.

Further, the art style really reinforces the narrative. Waking Violet is about the eponymous character being unable to wake up from a dream, and the graphics feel…well, dreamy. Everything seems a little fuzzy and off-kilter, and the colours are just the right level of unnatural.

Unfortunately, the downside of the game feeling dreamy is that it often feels like Violet is literally sleepwalking through levels. She?s moving at a maddeningly slow pace, and even when the levels? solutions seem obvious, you?re still forced to endure her interminable shuffling as she painstakingly goes from point A to point B.

Obviously, on the scale of “non-issue” to “dealbreaker”, the problem of a character moving too slowly probably falls closer to the former than the latter. But, at the same time, the slow pace makes the game feel like more of a drag than it actually is. Waking Violet is by no means a bad game, but if you?re not a particularly patient person, it might be easy to mistake it for one.

MixedBag provided us with a Waking Violet Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B-