There’s something so satisfying about starting a jigsaw puzzle, finding all of the right pieces, and then seeing some big image slowly form in front of you as everything comes together. I especially enjoyed putting together some of the 3D puzzles when I was younger and have fond memories of completing the Taj Mahal – it took ages, sure, but I had a good time doing it. It’s the memory of that which actually drew me to Puzzling Places, the virtual reality release from the team at realities.io that sees players piecing together 3D puzzles in their Oculus Quest.
It’s an idea that I thought could go two ways: it’d either lack the satisfaction of physically putting a puzzle together or it’d make for an addictive experience that I’d keep coming back to. I’m happy to report that it’s the latter, with Puzzling Places becoming the latest virtual reality title that’s eating up all of my hours in my Oculus Quest headset.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Puzzling Places gives players sixteen different puzzles to complete, each of which are based around real-life locales and divided into individual packs. This includes things just as The Upper Vestibule and Stables from the Hallwyl Museum Pack, Garni Temple, Khor Virap Monastery, and the Fortress of Amberd from the Armenia Pack, the Biarritz Lighthouse from the Biarritz City Pack, and Le Mont Saint Michel and Union Pacific Railroad Car from the Variety Pack, just to name a few. Admittedly, I hadn’t actually heard of the vast majority of these things, which is something that might be down to the fact that I’m EXTREMELY uncultured, but it didn’t stop me enjoying piecing them together – especially since the models look fantastic in-game. And hey, the game has just launched a new paid DLC that’s based around the Mars Desert Research Station, so there’s something a bit more ‘out of this world’ available if you prefer that.
I will admit that it would have been neat to have a few more familiar locales to work on, though. As mentioned, I loved completing a Taj Mahal puzzle in my younger years, so iconic sights like that would have been nice. Maybe something for the future?
“Puzzling Places gives players sixteen different puzzles to complete, each of which are based around real-life locales and divided into individual packs.”
Each puzzle can be split into a different number of pieces, with the choices consisting of 25, 50, 100, 200, or 400. Each piece is 3D too, which means there’s a whole lot more to look for outside of edge or corner pieces, so those higher piece number puzzles can take a LONG time to complete. It shows that Puzzling Places has caters for a varied audience though, whether that’s someone who wants to spend a quick twenty minutes or so solving a 50-piece puzzle or someone who’s happy to invest a couple of hours into a 400-piece puzzle. The pieces are presented in multiple ways too, so you can either have them all around you or simply placed right in front of you. I preferred the former, especially since the Oculus Quest is so flexible with its room scale options, but those who’d prefer to sit comfortably in one place will be glad there’s a more accessible solution.
There are a few more accessibility functions in place such as grouping pieces together, images of reference to know exactly what you’re meant to be creating, and convenient controls when it comes to pulling pieces towards you for close examination, with no limitations in place when it comes to making your puzzling environment feel comfortable. Sure, it’s a lot less conventional than doing a puzzle physically on a table in front of you, but it’s clear that the developer kept player comfort in mind and included options to ensure no frustrations kick in.
“Puzzling Places caters for a varied audience, whether that’s someone who wants to spend a quick twenty minutes or so solving a 50-piece puzzle or someone who’s happy to invest a couple of hours into a 400-piece puzzle.”
That lack of physicality could be an early hurdle for me, mind. Not physically feeling the pieces go into place made me wonder how satisfying Puzzling Places would be in the long-term, especially since I’ve worked on so many in real-life where it ALWAYS feels good to get a piece that fits perfectly in place. It was something that I got over quite quickly though, especially when everything started forming in front of me into this wonderful life-like model and little sounds played to mark my successes. It felt good putting together each puzzle and I was always looking forward to moving onto the next one.
The only caveat is that there are only sixteen puzzles available in the base game. In fairness, it’s not an expensive game so you won’t feel like you’re not getting enough bang for your buck, whilst the introduction of paid DLC does allow you to grow your collection if you’re willing to pay. It just might have been nice to have a few more options available across a wider (and perhaps more familiar) variety.
Other than that, though? I really enjoyed Puzzling Places and I can’t wait to keep playing with the new Mars Desert Research Station set.
Puzzling Places Review
Puzzling Places is a super satisfying and highly addictive 3D puzzle-piecing experience that’s sure to please fans of jigsaw puzzles. The range of real-life models available to put together look great in-game, whilst the variety of difficulty and accessibility options ensure that there’ll be a way to play that’s comfortable for everyone.
Whilst I’ll admit it would have been nice to have more puzzles and some that offered more familiar locales, I’ve quickly found myself investing hours and hours into Puzzling Places. It’s a wonderful virtual reality experience that offers an innovative take on one of the world’s most rewarding pastimes.
Platform(s): Oculus Quest 2 (Reviewed), Oculus Quest