Review – Miniature – The Story Puzzle

Review – Miniature – The Story Puzzle
1.5

Platforms:

Windows PC, Steam

Game Name:

Miniature - The Story Puzzle

Publisher(s):

purpleElephant

Developer(s):

purpleElephant

Genre(s):

Strategy

Release Date:

October 28th, 2016

Miniature – The Story Puzzle from purpleElephant

Miniature – The Story Puzzle is a top down narrative creation game that requires the player to put five different scenes in the correct order to tell a cohesive story. Built in Unreal Engine 4, the game is gorgeous and realistic, but the gameplay leaves much to be desired. Most of the solutions require trial and error to find the exact sequence of events, and the interface makes this frustrating.

Choose from different scenes.
Choose from different scenes.

What to Do?

Starting the game, I was given almost no direction for how to play. I was presented with a diorama-type environment, a scene in miniature. Clicking the “Tutorial” button, I was given the controls, with no prompt on what to actually do. At length I figured out that I was supposed to randomly scroll through five distinct scenes, and put them in order by clicking their corresponding spot on the timeline. I understand the hesitation for non-native English speakers to put in a lengthy tutorial, but all this game needed is “Put the scenes in order!”

None of this was very intuitive as I stumbled my way through the first story. After completing this (feeling like I was missing something the entire time), I was able to move on to the next scene. After getting a general idea of what to do, I was able to piece together my next puzzle fairly quickly. However, despite solving the puzzles, I still felt like there was something about the game I was missing. There wasn’t.

From here, you have to load the level again.  No "Restart" option available.
From here, you have to load the level again. No “Restart” option available.

That’s It?

I was able to breeze past all 12 missions in under an hour, only ever challenged by my own expectations and the user interface. If I ever faced anything that wasn’t obvious after looking over the scenes multiple times, all I had to do was brute force my way through guessing the solution and try again if I was wrong.

Each beautifully sculpted scene depicts a different activity (for example, a helicopter rescue mission or harvesting wheat). I was not intimately aware of what the exact process is for some of these, so was forced to guess the series of events based on the general positioning of the models, rather than intimate details. However, by guessing, I was not rewarded with any deeper understanding of these processes.

They certainly do some awesome artwork!
They certainly do some awesome artwork!

Leaves You Wanting

The creative team is composed of two designers and one composer. While the game looks terrific, and sounds very pleasing, the gameplay is not fun, and does not present much of a challenge. In all honesty, this felt like either a tech demo to demonstrate the designers’ 3D-sculpting proficiency with UE4 or a game for children. It feels as though the art came first, music second, and gameplay last.

Even if I wanted to keep playing, there aren't any more levels yet.
Even if I wanted to keep playing, there aren’t any more levels yet.

Maybe Next Time!

The only challenge or real puzzle that I ran into the whole time playing Miniature was navigating the interface and controls, which further frustrated me with the experience. If you are interested in looking at well-crafted models in Unreal Engine 4, Miniature might be worth your time. However, the puzzles it presents are neither challenging nor rewarding, and feels more like guesswork than gameplay.

Miniature – The Story Puzzle is available via Steam.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆ 

Watch the official trailer for Miniature – The Story Puzzle below:

Chris Townley

I was born in Calgary, Alberta, moved to Toronto, Ontario when I was seven, and was raised by Nintendo the whole time. Through elementary and secondary schools, I played Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, and Smash almost every day. At Queen's University, where I was supposed to be studying English and Film, I mostly learned from Valve, Rockstar, Team Meat, Fullbright, and thatgamecompany. Currently, you can find me wandering the wasteland, online in Destiny, or working my way through my Steam library.

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