Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions Review
Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions is a puzzle game in a classic sense in that it's a jigsaw puzzle game. However, it's not like a traditional jigsaw puzzle or videogame recreations of them. The puzzles are all stained glass works of art and the pieces are not a collection of similar looking collections of tabs and slots, but rather shards of glass cut into unique patterns based on the glass pieces used to create each piece of art.
Each puzzle is centered on a circular area in which you'll reassemble the pieces. Surrounding it are two concentric rings containing the pieces. These rings can be rotated to bring new pieces into view, but as you do so you'll rotate out the previously viewable pieces. Making things a little more challenging is that you can't see a piece's color or its orientation in the puzzle until you select it. Once selected, you can drag the piece over the puzzle and try to place it. Pick the right location and it will snap into place, but if not, the piece will return to the piece ring. By default the game will provide you with an assist at the start of each puzzle by marking a few points on the outer border of the puzzle and highlighting the pieces that should be placed at one of the marks. You can choose to disable this assist, but doing so will make the puzzles more challenging.
If you've done jigsaw puzzles before, then you'll be familiar with the universal technique of building the frame first out of the edge pieces and then working your way to the middle. In Glass Masquerade 2 this is a necessity since you won't know what the final image will look like before you build the puzzle and you can't connect pieces together outside of the central board. The edge pieces can be identified by their curved edges, but as you make your way through the game and the number of pieces in each puzzle increases those curved edges will become smaller and smaller and not as easy to identify. Solving the puzzles is an exercise in pattern recognition - you'll need to look at the patterns formed along the edges and in between the pieces that you've already placed in the puzzle and try to find the corresponding shapes in the pieces in the rings. Sometimes you'll need to resort to going through the pieces one by one, letting them rotate into their proper orientation, and then look for a matching slot somewhere in the puzzle. You won't be able to rely on piece colors as in traditional jigsaw puzzles because in the stained glass images the shards are uniquely colored and the color of one piece is often completely different from the one next to it.
At first the puzzles will take about five minutes to solve, but as you make your way through the game the subsequent puzzles that you unlock will have more pieces and the artwork will become more complex which will lead to more complex shard shapes, which means that the amount of time it takes to solve each puzzle will increase dramatically. You can leave a puzzle at any time and come back to it later without having to start over, so if you don't have time to finish a puzzle or want to move on to another one for a bit, it will be waiting for you when you return in the same state as it was when you left. I enjoyed the increasing level of difficulty in the puzzles, but those who are impatient may not agree.
The artwork in the game is all surreal and it is really impressive, both in terms of artistry and imagination. The music in the game fits the feel of the artwork perfectly, and really enhances the game's mood. I found the game to be simultaneously challenging and relaxing, a really good game to unwind with at the end of the day. Watching the artwork come together and reveal itself is a delight, and I more than once fell under the spell of summit fever and spent more time with the game than intended as I pushed to get to the point where the last piece snapped into place. I enjoyed my time with the game, and if you enjoy puzzle games you probably will, too.
Final Rating: 85% - Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions delivers a puzzle game that is at once challenging and relaxing.