Review: ‘House of Da Vinci 2’

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Title image courtesy of Blue Brain Games

I really like the fact that point-and-click adventures have resurged in recent years on mobile devices. These games are typically low-stress; it’s just you working through the puzzles the story presents to you.

While the genre used to feature a story that had you moving through a town scene by scene — and some still do — these days that seems less common than a game where you interact with some complicated device that unwinds and unfolds in interesting ways, revealing more tools you need to get the thing to open up more. I find them magical; I love the creativity on display as you put this piece here and that piece there and then a big new chunk of the mechanism unspools in front of you.

One of the more recent entries in the genre is House of Da Vinci 2, which is available on a wide range of devices. Blue Brain Games was kind enough to send me a review copy for the Nintendo Switch version.

A nighttime scene from House of Da Vinci 2. Photo courtesy of Blue Brain Games.

The game starts with you as a prisoner in a dingy cell during the Renaissance. A mysterious stranger gives you the means to exit through the sewers until you meet up with Cesare Borgia, who wants you to go and spy on Leonardo da Vinci. But crucially, before you get to Borgia, you find a mysterious device that lets you travel backwards in time — albeit to single moments that are frozen.

This makes for a range of puzzles in which you have to shuttle between two time periods, changing something in the past to affect the future. It’s neat to see a setting change across the years.

The story, which is told via journal entries, notes, and narration, will see you moving around a map of Italy as you progress in your employment with da Vinci. Since it’s a time travel story, there are circles and paradoxes for you to ponder. Saying too much would spoil the fun, but it definitely takes some surprising turns.

The puzzles are enjoyable and range from easy to hard — there’s still one that I don’t understand how I was supposed to solve. Fortunately, if you take too long, a series of helpful hints will become available. It’s up to you if you want to use them, of course. Aside from the time-travel aspect, the creators clearly spent time giving the game an aesthetic in line with the Renaissance setting. Puzzles involve wooden balls, cast-iron gates, candles, winches, and many other items that feel like they could easily have come from some crumbling ancient Italian villa. Everything has the mechanical feel of lumbering machines.

If you’re playing on the Switch, as I was, I recommend against playing it on the TV and just using the touch screen. When it was on the TV, my shaky hand and my daughter’s wiggly body both had a hard time with the pointer-based gameplay. The game lets you recenter the pointer, but I found myself doing that a lot, and it was hard to point at small things on the screen.

At $10 on the Switch store, and less for other mobile devices, this is an easy game to recommend. If you like this genre of games, House of Da Vinci 2 is an enjoyable, satisfying one to add to your collection.

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