I really am a sucker for "escape the room" type puzzle games on iOS and in the last couple of years, I have played quite a few of them. Many were and are so-so, but some have been quite excellent, memorable and a lot of fun. The latest game to join that last category is The House of Da Vinci available on iOS, Android and on PC.
The premise of the game is like every other puzzle game of this nature, solve interesting and intriguing puzzles and escape to the next room and so on until you beat the game. But the story of this game, even though it's like really not important at all, it makes so much sense. Da Vinci, as you may already know, was a fricking genius and his creations or machines were so intricate and advanced for the time he lived that a puzzle game of this genre feels right at home.
You are the apprentice of Da Vinci and it's your job to find out what happened to him by completing interesting puzzles, finding and reading his notes, solving even more puzzles based around some of his well-known machines inside his workshop and a cliffhanger finale which makes me eager to see and play the next chapter.
It's an excellent game but of course, I have to compare it to the series that's a masterclass in this gaming genre, The Room series. I have been lucky enough to have gotten access to play and review The Room games and to this day I still think that they are the best puzzle games you can play at the moment. The House of Da Vinci has excellent production values and presentation and really great puzzle design, but not quite excellent.
Puzzle games of this nature, live or die by their puzzle designs and while this game has fantastic puzzle design, I got stuck one or two times due to, maybe a lesser puzzle design thinking and lack of hints for those particular instances. Don't get me wrong, nearly all the puzzles have this natural progression, where something you get by solving a puzzle will help you solve another one and so on. And the iPad or better say, touch controls are just the perfect fit for these games as you have to swipe, scroll, rotate, pinch, whatnot, and every gesture feels so natural.
But those two times I didn't know what to do and I was completely blocked from making any progress, mainly in the Crypt and in the last room, due to missing an object which I had no idea where to find since there were no in-gameplay hints toward where it was and the in-game hints did not tell me where I should have looked for.
I combed every inch of the level, but nothing. If it wasn't for the awesome guys at AppUnwrapper and their detailed walkthrough, I would have written this game off. It sucked as I knew it wasn't really my fault... now maybe it was and I am blind as a bat, but it didn't feel like it. There was also another instance where I had to fill some tubes with something and I didn't know the right combination. Brute forcing it did not help and I kept going at it since I didn't want to use the in-game hints system. After losing some time with it, I checked the hint and the solution was on the other part of the "room", right in front of the current puzzle and you had to use your eye-thingy (it makes sense if you play the game), but that specific area didn't look like you could do anything to it or with it...ughhh.
Yes, you also have an "eye-thingy" which is exactly as the "eye-thingy" from The Room games, with which you see stuff that isn't there and interact with it. The House of Da Vinci goes a step further and introduces a "time-travel" type mechanic where you can scroll and see the past of an object, how it was used, its position and whatnot. Cool idea indeed, but I wish they had used it a bit more in some cooler ways.
Now if it weren't for those two instances I explained this game would have been a flawless/excellent puzzling experience just like The Room games are. Does that mean you should skip this game? Fuck no, sorry for the language, but this is still a really really great game and I personally cannot wait to play the next chapter. Thanks for reading!
PS: I think I have a PC Steam code for this game since I reviewed it on the iPad, so let me know if you want it in the comments down below.
PSS: I am still waiting for the Returner 77 guys to contact me.