For all the manic times of the world, occasionally a piece of tranquility can come along, allowing us to embrace moments of calm. And it has to be said that the age-old jigsaw puzzle was created for just that reason. With roots firmly entrenched in the 18th century, the iconic jigsaw has been seen by many to provide the chance to switch off from the real-life mess and kick back for a few hours, scouring over drawings, images and puzzles. And that is exactly what Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions allows for too – just for those who prefer to relax with a controller in hand. Or at least it does to a point.
Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions follows on nicely from the launch of the original stained-glass jigsaw puzzle that released back in early 2019. Pushing out a further 31 tests of the eye, Illusions requests you to pick up, rotate and place a variety of segments into one huge circular play area, connecting pieces up in order to showcase a rather abstract end design, and be treated to a morale boosting riddle. It’s a hugely simple premise and it’s one that, in its most simplest of forms, Glass Masquerade nails.
The tricky nature of the puzzles that Glass Masquerade 2 brings comes from the fact that each of the segments is seen in silhouette form until picked up, before you are able to see the full colour gamut in its glory. With each of the pieces slowly rotating on outer rings until you grab them and twisting into the correct orientation (unless playing on hard difficulty in which you’ll have to do this yourself using your triggers), the skill comes from finding a home for each piece as quickly as possible.
A timer counts up from the second you place your first element, and even though there is no need to rush your puzzling completion, that clock certainly places a bit of intensity on proceedings. With Digerati and the team at Onyx Lute stating that each of the 31 puzzles will take the average player 20 minutes or so to complete on the normal difficulty, and up to an hour for each on the hard, you can be sure that there are a ton of hours included here. I’ll be honest though, and for me even the consideration of attempting to play through things twice on both difficulty levels pushes the annoyances of the standard jigsaw a bit too far.
Completing each puzzle will see you earning either a key which unlocks further puzzles, or a number of segments which are then dropped into the final, huge concluding puzzle. This mammoth test is a gargantuan 88 pieces in total, and whilst that sounds like nothing when you compare it to the 1000+ pieces that a boxed physical puzzle will bring, the difference here is that at no point in Glass Masquerade 2 do you really know what you are building. And that is where my major bone of contention with this game lays. You see, in order to really enjoy finalising a boxed jigsaw, you will consistently know what is needed of you and what the finished outcome will be like. With the virtual puzzles in here however, at no point will you really know what you are creating, with the abstract designs and colours instead leaving you to just place pieces based on their outline. It’s rather annoying to say the least, and I’d much prefer the opportunity to be able to work towards an end goal that is defined, rather than sitting back, placing pieces for the sake of it. Hell, even now, with every single puzzle complete, and every stained-glass masterpiece starring me in the face, I’m struggling to understand what some of the cryptic images represent.
But then, in a nutshell, that’s Glass Masquerade for you, and Illusions just takes pretty much everything that was apparent in the original game to deliver more of the same. There’s no debating that it looks great – it’s just I would personally like to be able to gather more of a feel for the final creation.
As you may expect to hear, the audio side of Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions is rather minimal. In fact, the pickup, twisting and placement of each individual jigsaw piece is pretty much the only thing that will deliver any form of sound effect to your ears. But that said, accompanying those bright visuals and simplistic premise is a rather lovely little backing soundtrack, sitting on a loop and attempting to further enhance the relaxing mood. What Nikita Sevalnev has created is a delight, pushing out cellos, clarinets, flutes and English horns to create a dark and twisted cinematic feel. Even though turning the sound right down to play Glass Masquerade 2 is certainly something many will want to do, initially spending a couple of hours with the masterpieces of Sevalnev are enjoyable.
For everything good about Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions on Xbox One though, there are a few too many displeasing elements. Aside from the fact that you never know what you’re creating and that navigating through the puzzling menus to each individual level is a right old chore, this is a game that can easily deliver many soothing moments, all whilst still being more than capable of hitting you with a huge sense of frustration. Whether that be due to the amount of separate pieces that need to be gathered up and rotated in order to try and find a placement, or that of tediously scrolling through the many items to allow us to find the one that is needed next, I’m unsure. But for all the pleasure that Glass Masquerade 2 brings, there is always that niggling bit of doubt throughout. You should also be aware that attempting to take in any more than a couple of puzzles in one stretch will see you straining at the screen, debating a grab of the headache pills.
Getting past that though and, well, Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions on Xbox One does what it says on the tin. It looks great and delivers a series of enjoyable jigsaw puzzles but can get more than a little frustrating throughout. But then hey, I guess that’s what the puzzling scene has been providing for centuries past!