Developer & Publisher: Blue Brain Games
Released: November 24, 2017
Requirements: OS: Windows 7 or higher
Processor: 2.0 GHtz dual core processor
Memory:2 GB RAM
Graphics: Video card with 1024 MB VRAM
DirectX: Version 9
Storage: 3 GB available space
The House of Da Vinci
Blue Brain Games
Itís Florence in 1506, and the Renaissance is in full swing. Leonardo Da Vinci has been working on a new machine, one that he says will go beyond anything he has created to date. He is concerned though about it falling into the wrong hands, which explains the security he has applied to his house. But he is confident that you will be able to find your way in, and he trusts you, which is why the message has arrived, and why you stand on his doorstep looking for a way in.
What awaits you should you gain access is not Leonardo (he is nowhere to be found), but a game stuffed full of puzzles, almost all linked to contraptions and machines. The story (thin as it is to start with) takes a distinct backseat to the puzzles. Solve those in one room to gain access to another, and about 10 hours later reflect on a many and varied, and very satisfying, set of conundrums and their related gizmos.
If the interface puts you off, well it did the same for me. Itís fiddly to say the least, but you will settle in. You probably wonít ever like it, but (and particularly if you play in decent chunks) the things that irritate will fade. That the rest of the game is so intriguingly engaging will help significantly.
While you have to solve everything in one room in order to move to another, within that room you have freedom to explore and tackle the various conundrums any way you like. That said, some things require solving other things first, or doing enough to find a necessary item, but the room beckons you to explore and prod and pontificate, rather than fixate immediately on one single thing. I tended to gather information before flicking or fiddling with anything, but how you go about it is entirely up to you.
There are no hotspot indicators so in that regard you are on your own. You will however come to recognise some telltale signs that something might be done here (I wonít spoil by telling), but you will have to engage in some unrewarded clicking. If though, something looks like it could be pulled or unlocked or that it needs something to be inserted, chances are it does.
The other things you can try are the two lenses Leonardo leaves for you. The Oculi Infinitum enables you to see things that arenít otherwise observable, like codes or the brick to press or the object to target. The Oculi Tempus allows you to look back in time, to perhaps see how something was able to be solved (did we really need the redundant pattern tracing involved?). They are worn on a gauntlet but sit to the right of the game screen and can be activated by a swipe up or down, depending on which you want. You wonít know when to use one or the other (or at least I didnít), so be willing to deploy them if you are stuck.
Some puzzles have all you need right in front of you Ė a slider might be an example. Others require you to have discovered the clues e.g., as to how to set the various levers to operate the particular machine. A hint system that is timed (you will have to wait before getting another) can help (it is a bit hit and miss depending on where you are at), but you canít skip a puzzle. Whatever the puzzle, it has to be solved. Some repeat, some are familiar, some might frustrate, but all add to the tapestry of enjoyment.
As well as hints, if you have worked your way into a point from which you can no longer solve a puzzle, near as I could tell it will re-set, and there was one puzzle I found that I could re-set at will. Exiting the game also seems to re-set the puzzle you are working on, but I only did it once so donít count on that. I was encouraged by the apparent fact that if a puzzle hadnít re-set it could still be solved, regardless of my fiddling to date, and more than once it spurred me on to greater efforts.
Visually the game is a treat, and the animations accompanying even the most mundane of interactions look and sound as they should. The soundtrack doesnít overwhelm, and gives way to the auditory effects of exploring and fiddling with things. Animations can be short, or cinematically and impressively much longer. In that regard, Leonardoís house is everything you and he might want.
The game plays in the first person and everything is done with the mouse. Double-click is your stock in trade, to move or to zoom into a puzzle. Hold the left mouse button and then drag the scene around you to look about. You can do that too within a puzzle to shift your perspective. Right click to back out from wherever you are.
Your inventory items sit in a ribbon left of screen. Left click and drag to use in the game world, right click to examine. The latter can be important, as numerous items have to be further manipulated to arrive at their game-worthy configuration. A plus sign on an item in the inventory means it needs to be combined with another item; right click and then see whether you have what is required.
You canít save at will, but to the best of my knowledge the game saves whenever you exit, and you just choose continue from the menu to move on. Alternatively you can choose to restart the chapter, which coincides with accessing a new room. Once you finish the game you can re-enter any room you like, and also access your Ďachievementsí. These are plans you might have found in the game relating to actual Leonardo inventions, which are then displayed in a courtyard. From there you can play with those you discovered.
I liked this puzzling house a lot.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB