If I could put myself in a group of gamers, or if there was a way to rank myself as a gamer, I would say that I am a jack of all trades,. However, there are some genres that I truly enjoy, and that is puzzles. For me, puzzles are a good way to strengthen the mind, to put our brains to work, and help us have better visual skills and deductive skills. The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind for the Nintendo 3DS is one game that it allowed me to take a breath and just immerse myself on the strange world of the Baron. Before we start, there is something I would like to point out: to better enjoy the game, headphones are needed. I think that you need to experience this story on your own, so I won’t spoil anything story related on my review. I’ll point out the things that I liked about the game, and my complaints, so lets do this.
The objective of Von Sottendorff is to escape from his mansion, with scattered rooms and a series of challenges that will help him regain his sanity. In the process you learn about his story, so in each level you have 3 objectives: gather all scattered memories (5 in each level), get a puzzle piece (that is story related), and a key( that opens the lock door on each level). In order to clear your primary objectives, you have to jump, move around, take a good look at your surroundings, and think before doing your move. On the first levels (that serve as a tutorial) besides the aforementioned items, you can find paper hats (I think that they are paper boats, but the Baron is crazy right?). These are your lives as a hint. Do not leave the level without getting them, since you will need them in later levels. Each level puts the Baron on a series of rooms that can be moved, and this is the core of the experience. Since in order to find all items in each level, you will have to move each of the rooms. For example, in one stage the key is “suspended” on the air, there is a hole in the ceiling. In other room, there is a hole on the ground. You have to move the rooms accordingly so that the room that has a hole is on top of the room with the key on the air. In this way, when you fall on the hole you will get the key. It is simple but fun.
I like the fact that you have to plan ahead. You have to be on the room (in some cases) in order to solve the puzzle. Sometimes you have to move to rooms to get to a specific place in order to solve it, so it provides some serious thinking instead of just moving around. As you progress through the levels, you get access to more actions such as moving levers, boxes, and the Baron’s signature move: the use of the trumpet. This is where the game gets more interesting, and the puzzles get more creative. By using the trumpet, you can make invisible platforms appear. These are used to get to higher places and get items, but there is a catch: you have a limited amount of uses, so you have to think carefully when to use the trumpet. This adds to the variety of the puzzles. It can also be used to defend against some hazards such as suits of armor. It is worth mentioning that you can move the camera with the D-pad, which is extremely helpful since some items are hidden from sight. A little camera movement can go a long way to make our adventure easier because it helps with the room placement and to get the doors on the rooms to match.
The game offers 8 different worlds with 5 levels each ( 40 levels). Each one is more unique and harder, but it wouldn’t be a puzzle adventure without challenge. There are different enemies, so you have a lot to do in order to free the Baron from his madness. Graphically, it looks okay. Each areas have tons of details, and you can interact with different objects, even if they are not part of the puzzle itself. For example, in one level you find a radio, and if you interact with it, you can hear an interesting point to the story. This type of little touches are what makes the game a good experience, since you have to take into account that each of the details and objects in each level is part of the Baron’s distorted mind and ultimately his life. Playing with headphones (as mentioned previously) is the way to go. The game takes full advantage of your headphones by channeling certain audio queues and dialogue to certain areas. This contributes to the immersive nature of Von Sottendorff, and you can feel the dialogue dancing from your left and right side. It is a cool feature, and its the first time that I have experience something like this in a video game. The music is really good and goes right with the background of the Baron. Whimsical tunes and sounds make it even more worth playing with headphones.
If I could say that Von Sottendorff is perfect, I would lie. However, the only thing that I did not like is the fixed camera (I mentioned that you can move the camera with the D-pad). In some levels, the Baron becomes hard to see due to elements such as stairs or platforms. In these cases, it’s hard to move the camera to a position in which you can see the Baron and the objects in the room. It is especially frustrating in the rooms with enemies. For example, there is a level in which you have to jump over a set of stairs, but there is a rat just near the last jump. The camera angle makes it hard to see it, so you have to move the camera to an acceptable angle in order to sort through the obstacle. I lost some lives, but it was the only issue at least for me.
Bottom Line: The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and his Square Mind is one of the puzzle gems that you have to play. It offers a unique way to tell a story and has a good challenge for the puzzles. However, they are made in a way that does not overwhelm the player. The music and the art style are perfect for the game, and the story is really good. But don’t believe me; you have to try it yourself. I definitely recommend The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and his Square Mind to any 3DS owner.