Review: Waking Violet

Puzzle games on handhelds have been massive both in sales terms (Tetris on Game Boy) and in building cult status (Chips Challenge on Lynx) etc. Near the end of the Vita's life comes the tricksy Waking Violet to charm the socks off gamers. Thanks to Mixed Bag and developer Marco Mastropaulo, it is a fun and challenging sign off.

Update: If you're stuck, check out my guide.

Waking Violet sees our heroine, in her cute cat-hat, trapped in a dream with increasingly tricky puzzles between her and reality. Moving cube blocks around, she must open doors, get past traps and unlock gates. Nothing too radical, but delivered with a part ambient/nightmare mood that both disturbs and pushes the player on.
Waking Violet

Hub rooms allow you pick different puzzles if you get Violet stuck, but you'll need to solve each one to win the key to move further. Switches, obstacles and water are just some of the things preventing her progress, with each room, except the last few, needing you to trigger a portal to escape. Throw in the odd Pac-Man and Bomberman mini game and there's plenty of fun crammed into a quite small game

To help, Violet has some clever tricks up her sleeve, including fireballs to destroy blocks, wind to pull blocks toward her (normally, she can only push them), teleports to create alternative versions of herself and a limited time where she can walk on water. These are all powered by potions, with limited supplies, so there's usually only a single solution. If you do get stuck the pause menu will offer a hint.
waking violet
Opening doors, sliding on water, all part of the fun

Finally, if you stuff something up completely, left trigger sends Violent back in time, step-by-step until you can try another route to escaping that level.


The trick to Waking Violet, above any similar puzzlers, is that Violet can move blocks a half-step, obstructing two things at once. When you've been hitting your head against the wall playing the game as you would any other, this nugget of information suddenly becomes very relevant. Remembering it will help get past those two lighting orbs, or block ghosts from grabbing Violet!
Waking Violet

Deeper levels mix all of the elements in to multi-sequence puzzles, with ghosts roaming around once the portal is triggered to cause further chaos. Another handy feature is zoom out mode, so players can see the whole level in one screen.

Loading is rather slow on the Vita, and the game moves at a slightly chugging pace. That and the dark tones might not be to everyone's taste. However, as a puzzle challenge, there is lots to like and 40 plus levels to conquer making it a great portable play title.

Score: 7/10
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Price: £6.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Marco Mastropaulo/Mixed Bag
File size 243MB
Progress: Completed