First posted on 25 March 2014. Last updated on 24 April 2014.
Violett is a game developed and published by Forever Entertainment. The small Polish game company has previously released a number of indie games on multiple platforms. Violett is the company's first point-and-click adventure game and is also available on both PC and mobile platforms.
In Violett, you take on the protagonist role of the titular character. Violett is portrayed as a funky, young teenage girl with a distinct emo personality. She has dark purple short hair and wears hooped stockings. She never smiles and is always grumpy and moody. Suffice to say, Violett likes to be alone and has a rebellious attitude to boot.
The game begins with an optional cinematic cut scene showing Violett, forced to be away from her friends in the city, being reluctantly driven by her parents to a creepy old mansion in the middle of nowhere. Upon arrival at her new home, Violett goes inside to escape from her bickering parents who are again arguing with each other. Angry and upset, Violett tries to seek solace from her new bedroom. Bored to tears, she looks across the walls in her room before catching a glint of light emanating from a mouse hole. Bending down, she reaches into the hole and retrieves a magical amulet. All of a sudden, she finds herself taken in a flash into a miniature world, filled with fantastical creatures and magical landscapes. Now, it is now up to you to help Violett find a way back home. The task will not be easy—the evil and much feared spider queen, Her Spiderness, has her own agenda for Violett.
After the initial configuration screen in which you are given a choice to change the default graphics and input settings, the game opens to the Menu from where you can then choose to begin: Continue game, New game, Load game, Diary, Options, Credits, and Quit. Choosing Options allow you to change the language (8 languages supported), music volume, and sound effects volume as well as to enable or disable hint display. Whenever you exit the game, you are asked if you want to make a save of your current progress. You select a save slot to save your game and reselect it later to resume playing from where you have previously left off.
A serviceable inventory exists (at the top of the screen) in the form of a backpack that Violett can use to hold about 60 items which you will collect throughout the game. Additionally, the inventory holds colorful orbs that you can collect from every scene in the game. These orbs give Violett elemental powers which are vital at the endplay of the game. The more you collect, the better your chance of defeating the spider queen in a fight to the death at the end. There are also 12 diary pages to collect, each giving some parts of the back story of the magical world that Violett now finds herself to be in and of the creatures that Violett encounters during her diminutive adventure.
No game manual is included, nor is any game tutorial offered. However, the game has a built-in hint system. Once enabled, the system steps you through each set of hints in 4 parts, each time forcing you to wait an agonizing 15 minutes in between. If you cannot decipher the hieroglyphic sketches that appear in each part, then you have just wasted around an hour on a hint which you cannot use. To make matters worse, the game does not allow for provision to skip any of its puzzles. The game cursor changes to a hand to denote an item which you can pick up and a pair of footsteps to mark an area where you can go. When you cannot yet perform an action, Violett emits a squeaky noise and turns her head.
According to the developer, the game is loosely inspired by Lewis Carroll's famed novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Indeed, the game has both the feel and look of Wonderland. Unfortunately, unlike the source material, the story told by the game is largely superficial, to the extent of almost being nonexistent. After disappearing into the mouse hole (Violett must have been much smaller than Alice), you simply walk aimlessly from room to room via a labyrinth of doors, without knowing why and where you are heading there. In some rooms, you must talk to some strange creatures who will only help you if you help them first. It is not even clear if Violett even wants to escape from this magical realm. Suddenly then, out of the blue, Violett confronts Her Spiderness in a final showdown—end of game.
To the developer's credit, the art style used in this game is superb. The 2D backgrounds and 3D character models blend well together. Most of the animations are also well done. In some scenes, Violett walks too slowly to my liking. Throughout her quest, Violett gains a number of supernatural powers with which she can use to manipulate her environment. With telekinesis, for example, she can move and place objects without touching them. With hover, she can move short distances and get objects that are out of reach. With grow, she can makes plants grow to help her. Lastly, with absorb, she can absorb power and use it to destroy. I find the controls for telekinesis to be very clunky. Not infrequently, it takes me dozens of tries to drag the cursor to exactly the right spot at the right time to execute this power.
There are no understandable dialogs in this game. Rather, all of the characters speak in a common gibberish language. A speech bubble appears over a character's head showing some symbol or drawing of significance (or not). Ambient music plays throughout the game and perfectly complements the mood of the moment, ranging from mystical to melodic and even bordering on dramatic at times. Sound effects, such as water running, cannons firing, and thunder ringing, are also excellent.
The puzzles in this game vary between inventively clever and frustratingly difficult. They range from directing water flows along pipes to capturing a fly in a bottle to making a raft. Some of the puzzles are logical, in that you can visualize what needs to be done. Most of the puzzles, however, are purely trial and error.
In sum, I find Violett to be a bit disappointing. The game has the potential to be great but lacks the cohesiveness needed to execute its vision. Still, it may find a niche audience among younger gamers with its colorful characters. The game is quite difficult at times and can take up to 15 hours to finish. At a minimum, I feel that Forever Entertainment can learn from this experience and grow to be a competent adventure game developer—Violett's adventure may not yet be over so soon.