‘n Verlore Verstand is a journey through the subconscious featuring exploration, platforming and mysterious puzzles. Is ‘n Verlore Verstand worth checking out? Have a read of our review…
For those unsure of the language used in naming the game. It’s Afrikaans, and translated into English it means A Lost Mind. To be fair, in the later levels I felt like that I would lose mine.
The game itself piqued my interest early on. Not just from the name, but from the concept too. I was genuinely looking forward to getting my hands on it and experiencing what Skobbejak had crafted. From the moment I played the introductory level, I was sure of one thing. It was heading towards the description of ‘vague and ambiguous’ in a hurry. You see, the first level you play has you facing a tree in the distance. No narrative. That’s both written text and voice acting. Not a single solitary clue as to why this tree is there, or why you’re there. For those that buy the game based on screenshots and neglected to to read the blurb, they’re going to have a bad time.
I began my journey enjoying the game, even though a distinct lack of reason existed for the game. I like my quirky Indie titles, and found this to fit the bill. The levels were diverse, strange and had you collecting flowers as a form of College table should you feel obliged to do so. Puzzles were strange to say the least. Find your way to the tree to finish the level and move forward. One level in particular confused me early on, and this was the city. A broken section of freeway was at the start with a ringing telephone on it. I heard this as I advanced from the starting point, and searched around in vain. But it took me what felt like an eternity to figure this out. I became bored quickly as I traversed the city, searching for a way to the top of the tallest building which was home to the illusive tree of escape. Only by chance did I figure out that approaching the ringing public phone was the solution to advancing the level.
It soon became apparent that as the game progressed, the more elaborate the puzzle solutions became and with that, the more frustrating and cofusing too. Personally, I find this saddening. For Skobbejak have got the talent for making games as far as I’m concerned. But when you create a game with puzzles in a 1st person manner with little or no narrative, then your target audience may end up having a bad time with your game. Later levels end up turning into a ‘guess-fest’ as you wander around aimlessly like a headless chicken wondering to yourself what you have to do next. The creepy old mansion themed levels are quite possibly the most infuriating levels I encountered. Especially the 3rd time around.
The concept of the game itself is an interesting idea. But given the game does little to direct or inform you of proceedings, it could end up turning people off. Visually, the game looks good enough, and the audio performs well too. Gameplay made me growl in frustration on several occasions with the sensitivity of the analog sticks being the cause of the noises I made. It’s not a game breaker, but it does become awkward when traversing platform sections.
You are given 18 scenes to play through, and depending how lucky you are with randomly solving each level, you can then move on to work your way through the time trials for each level. Should you remember how you solved each one that is. In my own experience, I found running around without purpose was the way to completing my second time in the mansion themed level. It reminded me of the hit Layers of Fear, with a similar creepy old look to it. But without the jump scares, and only falling platforms to thwart you. The downside to this level was that after 40 minutes of running around looking for the way out, I realised how empty and void of character this level was. Occasional pieces of furniture dotted the level, and lighting fixtures made up most of what you will see. Aside from that, there really wasn’t much else to recommend looking out for.
The flowers you can collect may be symbolic in nature to ‘n Verlore Verstand, but I’ll be damned if I’m able to figure it out. The game is just to darn vague for its own good. It’s cryptic to say the least, and given a lack of instruction, it could have done with some way of conveying it’s message to you. For instance, instead of collecting flowers, perhaps diary pages detailing events that lead up to the in game plotting would have been a wiser choice.