By Ronald Gordon
Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the greatest inventors in human history. His inventions were simply amazing – even to this day. But what if, instead of the Triple Barrel Cannon, Da Vinci invented brain-torturing puzzles?
The House of Da Vinci, an indie puzzle game that was developed and published by Blue Brain Games, is about you as the apprentice of Leonardo Da Vinci. You go through his house and try to find him, as he’s mysteriously vanished. However, finding him isn’t exactly an easy task when you’ve entered a house full of puzzles.
Da Vinci has been missing for quite some time now, and you’ve gotten word that he’s being hunted by someone. With the alertness of a hawk, you enter the house of your master and start your search by solving the array of puzzles that Da Vinci has left in your path. These puzzles can range from simple step-by-step enigmas that unlock hidden items to massive contraptions that are bigger than a person. As you travel through the many rooms of Da Vinci’s home, you find different items that can help you on your journey.
The most useful of these items is a gauntlet Da Vinci made that can be used with an array of different lenses, like a telescope. These lenses have different abilities, from being able to view the inner mechanisms of a machine to seeing into the past to find something that is hidden. An example? In order to follow him, you have to utilize the lens to see where Da Vinci used a secret button to enter the next room.
The items you pick aren’t always useful at first; they require some analyzing and adjustment to be helpful. Other objects can’t be used on their own, so you have to pair them with another piece to make what you need.
This game was great for me because the puzzles are challenging but fair, something I love. There were times that I got stuck, but luckily the game gives you hints about what you should look into to solve the puzzle or to get another item. I’m also fond of the fact that there’s a seemingly endless number of mysteries to solve and hidden items to find, because I’ve always enjoyed solving problems, even as a kid. That these puzzles were made by Leonardo Da Vinci, one of my favorite historical figures, just draws me in more. In the backgrounds of some rooms you can even see real life blueprints of Da Vinci’s machines, like the Armored Car in the third room, which is one of my favorite Da Vinci inventions.
The game’s music and overall feel are both great as well. The music is dramatic and sets the mood really well, and when you solve a puzzle or find an item you get a wonderful-sounding upbeat tune. There’s not much to complain about when it comes to controls, as you only use the mouse to interact with objects and pick up items. Other than that, the graphics are superb for an indie game as almost all the items and puzzles and even the backgrounds are well designed and look realistic. That’s not to say that the game doesn’t have at least some faults or problems. For instance, when it comes to puzzles that require quick turns or changes in direction, some players might get aggravated as sometimes the mouse movements don’t register quickly enough.
The House of Da Vinci is a game that I would highly recommend to my fellow puzzle game lovers out there as the story, the music, the graphics, and the puzzles are all enough to hook you and make you want to continue playing. However, The House of Da Vinci also keeps you intrigued with its ideas and their portrayal. The game could’ve been like any regular puzzle game, but it’s different because of its premise. Knowing how eccentric Leonardo Da Vinci was, the idea that the game tells you that Da Vinci built its main function is somehow all the more believable.
Ronald Gordon is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern, part of our ongoing partnership with Bronx’s DreamYard Prep School.