VELONE is a creative automation game in which you assemble and program mechanisms to solve logic puzzles, from publisher Daedalic Entertainment. Both relaxing and highly replayable, you save the planet VELONE by creating automated constructs that move and assemble according to your master plan.
Logic And Puzzles Might Get You Through This
I’m a fan of puzzle games. They can be great fun and a good way to unwind. There’s something deeply satisfying about solving them. I’m that guy that plays Tomb Raider and just wants to raid tombs for the puzzles, not go to war with Trinity. So a game that’s all about logic and puzzles where you learn more about the planet Velone as you progress? Sure, sounds like it could be fun.
The game is listed as being *inspired* by Opus Magnum. So let’s just get this out of the way straight off. Saying it’s inspired by is a bit of a stretch when it is almost a complete rip-off visually. Yes, there are some changes. Are they good changes? We’ll get to that in a bit.
The first thing you notice when loading up VELONE is adverts for three other games at the top of the screen. And by notice, I mean you can’t help but notice them because they’re quite prominent. For a paid game, people don’t expect to see adverts like that in their games. They certainly stand out more than the font to start the game. Start the game though and you’re presented with an unskippable opening monologue about the world of Velone and why they need your help. We still have a way to go before text-to-speech sounds natural and it’s short enough that it’s slightly disappointing that a voice actor wasn’t used.
Straight away you get a tutorial which is kind of confusing. You get given little information on how to design or control elements. In a game like this, you need to be taught what to do. Instead, what you get is a holograph that just tells you to place particular items on the board. There’s no explanation of what the mechanics do, and what particular functions items perform. It’s brief and feels very incomplete. There’s no learning involved. I came away from the tutorial more confused than I should be. You’ll want to do the tutorial even if it’s not helpful as without that the game will be almost impossible to work out. Even completing the training leaves you sitting there looking at the first level scratching your head. A tutorial is meant to help you, not leave you with more questions than answers.
The user interface is something that needs improvement. You’d hope, particularly with the programming controls, that there’d be some sort of tooltip when you hover over it. There’s no such thing. Some you can clearly tell what they do but there are some that simply aren’t intuitive. You shouldn’t have to guess at what something does. Especially when changing or re-ordering the programming is a chore. Forgotten a step at the beginning or middle? Well, you have to individually move each item up one at a time to make room. Can’t select a range to drag and drop, can’t insert in between. You can replace it, but that only helps if you have the wrong item. If everything else is correct but you just need to insert one more step near the beginning then good luck.
Frustratingly, there doesn’t appear to be any way to manually save your progress mid-level. In a game this complex where you have to put in so many commands, it’s unforgivable. Imagine working on a level for ages and you suddenly have to go do something where you can’t just leave the game on pause. In addition, backing out to the main menu to change some settings seems to result in your progress is lost. Why did I back out to the main menu to change a setting? Because there’s no other way to change settings. Or if you seriously mess up, you can’t just reload a save point.
Graphics & Audio
I touched on the audio earlier with the voice over. It’s not the best. But it does suit the graphic style which seems to be what you’d see in a game from around ten years ago. Opus Magnum came out five years ago and although it’s basically a clone, changes to the graphic interface have not improved the style. It’s actually a set backwards which is a shame, as a game styled after one from 2017 should look better, not older. Some of the graphics end up looking a bit out of place with the rest of the design choices. It’s missing some cohesion.
The music is okay and probably my favourite part. But it’s only okay. It does suit the game though and in a game that wants you to really think, it’s not a game where you want to have banging tunes. So the choice of music is for the best.
What’s a really bad choice though is the font. The text isn’t the largest and on a laptop can make you have to lean in to read it properly. And the contrast is poor with white text used on a light blue background. Games should be accessible. If you don’t have good eyesight then you’d struggle to see the options.
If this is the kind of game where you can either get past the problems or they’re solved in the future, there’s a lot of gameplay on offer. The puzzles aren’t an easy solution so will take some time to complete them.
Overall, VELONE is a frustrating game for many reasons. Even if you look past it being a poorer version of a well-received game like Opus Magnum, there are some serious problems with it. There’s a game in there that some people will enjoy but it needs some work to get to the point where more than a handful of people will find it. Some work needs to go into making the tutorial a lot better and some questionable choices with the game’s UI need to be addressed.
The accessibility of the game, in particular, desperately needs some work. If you’re on a laptop with decent resolution then you’ll struggle, especially if you don’t have great eyesight. My eyesight is good and I had to really focus on some parts. That on top of a fair few crashes and the game suddenly becoming unresponsive for a few minutes at a time, it’s not a game that I can recommend in its current state. There are simply too many problems and it doesn’t feel like a completed game. It feels more like a beta release or a demo. So for that reason, I can only rate this game as broken.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.