Waking Violet is a top-down 2D puzzle game from developer Marco Mastropaolo, and publisher MixedBag. Using a variety of powers, players must help Violet to escape from a dream world, and discover why she’s there in the first place. Ultimately, Waking Violet provides a fun, relaxing experience that’s perfect for unwinding.

Soon after falling asleep, Violet finds herself in a dream-like world, filled to the brim with puzzles. Each level plays out more or less the same, she must activate an alarm clock and use a portal to escape. Occasionally collecting the alarm clock will awaken dangerous creatures, but those are easily dealt with, using either large blocks to keep them away or, occasionally, traps to destroy them. Completing all the levels in a hub will unlock a new area full of increasingly complex puzzles.

As players progress, they will infrequently come across pages, ripped out of a journal. These notes make up the bulk of the story outside of the beginning scene, and are also found before acquiring a new power, of which there are four. Emitting fire from your hands, walking on water, creating a clone of yourself, and pulling objects closer to you are all abilities that Violet eventually learns, and all become tools that help to complete each level. Despite having such straightforward applications, I found myself using the powers in increasingly creative ways. My primary concern with these powers is that finding them doesn’t ensure you’ll always have them. The game makes a big deal out of unlocking these puzzles, but each level thereafter will dictate which powers you have, which seems to defeat the purpose of the journals and discovery of the powers.

 These green orbs activate switches, if Violet can stay out of their way

These green orbs activate switches, if Violet can stay out of their way

Despite this, the game is fun, and never feels stressful or too difficult, thanks large to a rewind feature. If Violet is ever caught by an enemy, or falls into water, she has effectively ‘died’ but players always have access to her rewind ability, where time will reverse to the previous action with the push of a button. Holding the button starts a steady backward stream until players are happy with were Violet is, allowing them to quickly undo any mistakes. This turns many potentially frustrating moments into easily remedied ones, and although this prevents the levels from feeling too difficult, the only thing it really does is stop players from reloading a puzzle that’s past salvation.

The only problems I had with the game were that of the music and general art direction. Since the game takes place in a dreamscape, the music is appropriately bizarre. It never clicked with me and only distracted me from completing the puzzles. The art of each level also took me out of the game, because of how sterile it appeared. A larger variety in tilesets or a few more details in the blocks that comprised each level would have gone a long way in making the world feel more alive.

Despite a lackluster art direction, the gameplay of Waking Violet is fun. Clearing each hub almost feels like a Mario-style level, where each level has a variety of stars and objectives. Instead, Waking Violet links its levels thematically, and, due to the rewind feature, creates an enjoyable experience at a good price.

 Each purple light is a level that Violet must be in order to wake up

Each purple light is a level that Violet must be in order to wake up

The only problems I had with the game were that of the music and general art direction. Since the game takes place in a dreamscape, the music is appropriately bizarre. It never clicked with me and only distracted me from completing the puzzles. The art of each level also took me out of the game, because of how sterile it appeared. A larger variety in tilesets or a few more details in the blocks that comprised each level would have gone a long way in making the world feel more alive.

Despite a lackluster art direction, the gameplay of Waking Violet is fun. Clearing each hub almost feels like a Mario-style level, where each level has a variety of stars and objectives. Instead, Waking Violet links its levels thematically, and, due to the rewind feature, creates an enjoyable experience at a good price.

7.5/10

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