Published on September 9th, 2019 | by Meg Stivison0
Pavilion: Touch Edition Review
Lost in Abandoned Ruins
In Pavilion: Touch Edition, from Visiontrick, players can’t control their hero directly — he won’t go where you tap or turn right at your command. Instead, you control the environment and your hero will route around obstacles you place. This fourth-person exploration adventure takes players through a mysterious dream world, full of logic puzzles to solve.
To guide your tiny hero through his world, you’ll manipulate the environment by ringing bells, turning lights on and off, sliding cubes to create or remove obstacles, and so forth. Later, you’ll be able to guide rafts through a water ruin, but your hero will still step on and off at his own will. When he’s not being sent somewhere or running around your blockades, your hero will stop at the nearest fire to warm his hands. Apparently, this ruined city is cold.
As your hero journeys in Pavilion, you’ll need to get him to find keys to open gates and activate sensors to open doors. Some of these are timed, using doors that light up as they unlock and a clear visual countdown to re-locking. I didn’t like the timed objectives nearly as much, mostly because rushing seemed at odds with exploring the mystery and enjoying the game’s art.
Beautiful, Mysterious Ruins
This mobile puzzle game is light on narrative, but wonderfully full of mystery. Your nameless hero is alone, exploring ruins for much of the game, without a backstory or explanation. There are hidden treasures, like keys or a bit of a photograph, that add to the mysterious, abandoned feel. The ambient background music is pleasant, and continued to build that sense of mystery. (But the music didn’t provide any clues for me, so the game can be played successfully without sound, too.)
Pavilion‘s ruins have appealing detail, with vines growing up shattered walls, stairways leading nowhere, and broken tracks underwater, and the game mechanics invite players to explore these lovely, abandoned levels. But parts of this beautiful puzzle game were confusing, and the level of visual detail added to the frustration.
But Mysterious Player Objectives, Too
I had difficulty telling what was activatable and what was environment, especially in levels which introduced new mechanics. Tapping around wondering which furniture I could push or which directions I could steer the boat wasn’t really the enjoyable kind of game exploration. Also, I didn’t always know where my hero should be going, there were no EXIT signs in this lovely little game world, so sometimes I didn’t know if I was even encouraging him in the right direction. In levels with more than one gate, I didn’t always know which one was the final objective. Trying to figure out the puzzle parameters isn’t as much fun as trying to solve the puzzle, and there’s no hint or tutorial system for confusing environments.
Although I really enjoyed solving puzzles and setting my little hero on his journey, I found the difficulty inconsistent between levels. A confusingly complex path would be followed by one that felt obvious to me.
Finally, one minor UI choice annoyed me. When the game is first opened, the player’s choices are New Game on the left and Resume Game on the right, but after running through a level, the menu changes to Resume Game on the left on and Reset Level on the right, so it’s too easy to accidentally reset your level if you’re playing on the subway or at the bus stop. It’s not disastrously bad, and Reset Level has its uses, but mobile games should support an interrupted play style.
As If By An Occult Hand
Pavilion is a unique twist on the exploration game. After a few levels of sending my little hero back and forth, I started to feel a bit badly for him. Not only because I sent him running back and forth, again and again, that’s just life as a game protag. But he seemed afraid of the dark and I had to turn the lights out on him to get him towards his goal. He wanted to go towards the warmth, and I kept blocking his easy path. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for my passive hero, getting pushed on to different paths by unseen forces, especially in the levels where I had to ring multiple bells and make my hero keep changing his goals.
It’s hard to know if this is intentional or just my feelings about a lost little guy in an abandoned world. But playing this mobile game took me down mental paths about how much control we have over our life choices, and how much is just trying to get around obstacles.
Pavilion offers a unique twist on the exploration game. The frustrations caused by lack of clarity and explanation are more than balanced by the enjoyment of the mysterious world and the puzzle-solving.
Send your hero exploring beautiful, mysteriously empty and occasionally confusing ruins in puzzle adventure Pavilion from VisionTrick.