Master Leonardo is in trouble, his latest experiment has drawn unwanted attention. He trusts you, his lowly apprentice to retrace his steps and aid him. To do so, you first must find a key and enter The House of Da Vinci.
Developer: Blue Brain Games
Publisher: Blue Brain Games
Release Date: June 2017
Played Main Story
Platforms: iOS, Android & PC coming soon
Purchase At: iTunes
The House of Da Vinci will be instantly familiar in its gameplay style to players of The Room. It’s a first person point & click—or tapping considering it’s on iOS and soon also Android—adventure game where you complete puzzles using strange contraptions, ciphers, hidden machinery and gesture based controls. Along the way you find notes and hidden documents feeding you the story in small chunks, giving answers but inevitably raising more questions.
The game opens with our protagonist, the apprentice arriving on the property, to find a guard holding a letter in which the master, Leonardo Da Vinci beckons us to follow him, but to be careful as there are people after him. Before we can even open the door, the nearby tower explodes, and a form swoops by using a certain famous flying apparatus.
Following DaVinci’s careful instructions and after completing a series of puzzles we uncover the central mechanics of the game, two sets of lenses, the first one revealing secret messages and the second one, the Occulis Temporis, revealing things in the past, with a wonderful little progress bar to rewind and fast forward as you desire. This mechanics is pretty cool and gladly not overused, though it reminded me greatly of Batman Arkham Origins’ crime scene investigations. And I love those!
The House of Da Vinci takes you throughout the artist’s property, from the foyer and library down to his garden, his secret workshop and even the place where he constructed siege engines. What makes the game really special for me is that it combines the complex super-puzzles I often praised in the Fireproof series, The Room, and real historical inventions by Leonardo Da Vinci, resulting in some of the most complex puzzles I’ve ever seen in a video game. And joined that with my love of Renaissance history, you have a game made to hook me and not let me go until it’s done.
The story is pretty clever, showing Leonardo’s passion for discovery and experimentation get the better of him and putting him afoul of clients, which become increasingly dangerous and demand he turn over his latest work, which they know he’s built and hidden. These mysterious people are with you throughout the experience, as shadows in the distance which you only notices as you escape certain locations.
Between the abandoned house, the threatening messages and the strange figures in the darkness and coupled with some wonderful environmental sounds and some very moody sombre music, the House of Da Vinci has a fantastically tense atmosphere, one that adds a strange sense of urgency to the gameplay, even though you have all the time in the world.
The game’s hint system seems to follow the sense of hurry, as its clues become available after a short time if the game detects that you’re not moving in the right direction. Fortunately, the help is entirely optional and never fully reveals puzzle solutions.
Visually it’s stunning, with highly detailed rooms and carefully reconstructed Da Vinci artefacts, immersing you into the renaissance and its wonderful aesthetics and making the complex mechanisms, powered by pulleys and clockwork components, seem so much cooler and surreal.
The only thing I must say to Blue Brain Games about The House of Da Vinci is that they better release the sequel soon, because they can’t leave me hanging with that cliffhanger ending. To not continue this wonderful title would be a crime!
5/5 – Hell Yes!