Access Denied review for PS Vita, PS4, Switch

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PC, PS4, Switch
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Stately Snail
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Now that I?ve finished it — a task that took me a grand total of about 45 minutes — I feel quite comfortable saying that Access Denied really reminds me of The Witness.

Note: coming from me, that?s not a compliment.

See, much like The Witness, Access Denied is a puzzle game that?s built around inscrutable internal logic that may make sense to the people who made it, but that isn?t necessarily as clear to everyone else. While there are some puzzles in which the solutions are obvious, it?s just as common to find a puzzle where you just click things around blindly until, at last and for no apparent reason, the puzzle box pops open and you move on to the next one.

There are a couple of things that separate Access Denied from The Witness, at least in my mind. First and foremost, Access Denied is nowhere near as ambitious: it?s just a simple little puzzle game, set inside a small room, where you just unlock a series of 36 boxes. Even if you?re as bad at spatial logic and reasoning as I am, it shouldn?t take you all that long to get through. Seeing as I got angrier and angrier at The Witness the further into it I got, brevity is definitely welcome — though, at the same time, there was something kind of admirable about a game that was so all-in on its idea that it dragged it out for hours and hours. Where The Witness felt like an artistic statement (albeit one that I despised), Access Denied feels like an inconsequential diversion.

Even worse, it?s an inconsequential diversion with lousy controls. It?s a good thing playing on the Vita allowed me to use the touchscreen, because there were some puzzles where the thumbstick-controlled cursor was nearly impossible to use. And even the game?s touch controls aren?t great — I inwardly groaned every time one of the puzzles involved turning a safe dial, because it was practically impossible to get them to work. It?s a good thing Access Denied didn?t reward precision in puzzle-solving, because when it came to those dials, I was literally just stabbing at the screen until the lock face magically set itself to the correct position.

If Access Denied was any longer than it is, the lousy controls would have been a problem. As it stands, however, they were more a minor bump in the road to a short, easy Platinum. It?s up to you whether you want to endure those small bumps and obscure logic just for another trophy — and if you aren?t playing it for a trophy or a GamerScore, I honestly don?t know why you?d check this out — but it feels like there are better, more interesting ways to spend your time and money than on this game.

Ratalaika Games provided us with an Access Denied PS4/Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: C