Review – Maquette

I have spoken many times about how much respect I have for Annapurna Interactive. They have made it their mission to publish games that are usually a far cry from the norm. While not all of their titles achieve the success they were hoping for, such as Telling Lies, most of them provide enjoyable and thought provoking experiences like The Pathless, Gorogoa, and Outer Wilds. So when I saw the announcement for Maquette, a trippy puzzle game from one of my now-favorite publishers, I was immediately onboard. Now I just had to see if the experience was as enjoyable as it looked. 

Maquette centers around the relationship of a young couple. This game is in a first-person perspective in which you control the man in the duo. He finds an old sketchbook when going through some of their things and it makes him reflect upon their past time together. The rest of the game is spent solving puzzles while you hear dialogue from some of their most memorable moments. You’ll also see his thoughts appear across various walls and landscapes as you progress, giving you more of an insight as to how he truly feels about things.

Maquette Inner Thoughts

His inner thoughts will appear in writing in various spots around the map.

The story consists of about half of the focus of the game, the other half centers around solving puzzles. Maquette is a recursive puzzle game in which you use miniatures, or maquettes, in order to manipulate the size and layout of specific items found within the map. Bringing things inside and outside of the main dome will affect the sizes of objects depending on where you pick them up and place them.

For example, at one point you’ll need to get past a locked door. Naturally, you’ll need a key to open it. You’ll find the key, but it is much too large to fit the key hole. So you’ll drop the large key outside of the central domed structure and enter the dome which has a miniature version of the map inside of it. From here, you can pick up the smaller version of the key from its respective location within the miniature map and proceed to take it outside of the dome where it will maintain its small size. This will make it the correct size to use in the locked door’s keyhole.

Maquette Main Dome

Here you can see the main dome, with the smaller maquette inside of it.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it is, but it doesn’t stop there. From there you’ll need to reach an object, but it’s on the upper level of a tower with no way to access it. Or is there? Take the key from the now unlocked door and bring it back inside the domed structure. Then you can drop the key back inside the main dome and exit it to find the much larger version of that key waiting outside. You can then pick up the enlarged key, bring it back inside the main dome and place it inside the maquette where there is a piece of missing bridge leading to your next objective. When you exit the main hub and into the regular sized area, the key will now be enormous and fully filling the gap in the bridge, making it possible for you to cross and get to your next goal.

Maquette Key Bridge

This is the key bridge I was referring to.

It’s a fun and inventive gameplay mechanic for a while, but it’s not too long before you realize that’s really all this game has to offer. There’s rarely anything different to be found throughout the entire game. I was hoping for some some truly outside the box thinking with regards to some of the solutions, like those found in Superliminal. However, Maquette never makes that leap into the delightfully bizarre, it stays in the safe zone of manipulating object sizes for the most part. The majority of the puzzles are incredibly easy to figure out, although a couple have some truly outlandish solutions that make them more aggravating than thought provoking.

Still, there’s no denying that Maquette is a gorgeous game. Nearly every set piece is filled with vibrant colors and enticing visuals. There are a few levels near the end that are nearly devoid of color, which creates a powerful contrast to the rest of the game and drives home the sense of sadness and isolation. The use of colorful illustrations to represent those found within the sketchbook are another nice touch and one that helps to enhance overall the tones of the narrative.


Visuals aside, it’s really the vocal talent that makes this story work. Real-life Hollywood couple, Bryce Dallas Howard and Seth Gabel, each give an outstanding performance. Their natural chemistry enhances the believability of two people meeting, falling in love, and eventually struggling to keep the happiness going. The same cannot be said for the rest of the sound design. The sound effects are all competently helmed, with the sounds of objects as they hit the ground in their various sizes sounding fairly realistic. The problem lies with the soundtrack. Most of the orchestral songs in the background are fine and fit each stage well. However, every now and then a regular song with lyrics will come out of nowhere and play so loudly that it’s all you can focus on. It really takes you out of the moment.

This is one of the few rare deviations from the size manipulation puzzles.

All in all, I have to say that I really enjoyed my time with Maquette. The story is one that we’ve all seen before, but the performances from Bryce Dallas Howard and Seth Gabel make it easier to get attached to. Most of the puzzles are beyond easy, but this is a game that’s more about the journey than about stretching your mind muscles. Some might think this game is too short, taking only about three to four hours to complete, but I think its length was perfect. It gives you enough time with the characters to feel satisfied with their story and ends before the gameplay wears out its welcome too much. If you like a good story and some fun mind-bending puzzles, be sure to give Maquette a try.


Graphics: 9.0

An absolutely gorgeous game with a surprising amount of scenery changes as you progress.

Gameplay: 7.0

A first-person recursive puzzle game where you’ll have to manipulate the size of the objects around you in order to find solutions. Most of it works wonderfully, but some of the solutions are overly obscure. Walking around in the large scale areas is painfully slow.

Sound: 8.0

Real-life Hollywood couple Bryce Dallas Howard and Seth Gabel give outstanding performances as two people reliving moments in their relationship. The music is good, but occasionally there are songs that come out of nowhere and play much louder than everything else around you.

Fun Factor: 7.0

A recursive game centered around the telling of a modern day romance story. It’s a short game, taking about three to four hours to complete. However, it’s just about the right amount of time to enjoy hat it has to offer before the simple gameplay formula wears out its welcome.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Maquette is available now on PS4, PS5, and PC.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Maquette was provided by the publisher.