It’s finally here, the sequel to one of my favourite, most relaxing puzzles games of 2019, Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions. It was almost exactly a year ago (6th Feb 2019) which I reviewed the original Glass Masquerade, a game which had me hooked as soon as I started the first puzzle, unable to stop playing until I’d achieved the platinum. This series is so much more than a simple ‘jigsaw puzzle’, they’re quite frankly the best games in the genre that I’ve ever played.
Once again developed by Onyx Lute and published by Digerati, the second game in the series is much bigger than the first game and offers a new mechanic, a mechanic which makes the puzzles much, much trickier. However, just like we saw with Spaceland, the Steam version appears to have something the console versions don’t, something I hope gets added post-launch. But, before we get into that, let’s take a look at the beauty of Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions…
**Warning, if you suffer from Coulrophobia (a fear of clowns) then you may want to avoid the game, especially if the final image in this review scares you. It’s the image you’ll see every time you load up the game and various puzzles contain images of clowns.**
If you’ve played the previous game (or read my review of it HERE), then you’ll know what to expect with this new release. In the simplest possible terms, Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions is a jigsaw puzzle in which you’re piecing together broken stained glass windows, sliding uniquely shaped pieces into one another in hopes that they’ll fit. However, the game itself isn’t anywhere near as simple or straightforward as that sounds. Just like the first game, all of the pieces which you have to put together are blacked-out silhouettes which spin around as you pick them up, meaning you don’t actually see the design until you click on one.
However, even seeing the pattern upon the piece doesn’t really help you when it comes to figuring out where it appears in the puzzle. Why? As I said previously, you’re piecing together stained glass windows – abstract and multi-coloured stained glass windows. As such, colours and designs will rarely go near each other and you sometimes don’t even realise what the image is supposed to be until you’ve almost completed the design! So, your main clue as to where the pieces go is the actual shape of the shard, which is why the black silhouette is quite important and more of a clue than you first realise.
What’s the goal of the game? Complete each window, one by one, unlock new puzzles and collect keys as you complete all 30 puzzles, all whilst listening to a mesmerising soundtrack.
The first game in the series was quite simple, taking around six hours to platinum without any guides (I’ve seen people do it in just over two by using a guide). In Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions, the game advises you that it could take up to an hour to complete a single puzzle, something I didn’t believe until I was regularly taking over an hour to complete about half of the puzzles. I know what you’re thinking – “how the hell could they change a jigsaw puzzle so that it gets harder?” – well, let me explain…
On easy mode, or in the original game, all you have to do is pick up a piece from around the board, find where it fits and slot it in place. The pieces auto-rotate to the correct orientation as you pick them up so it’s all about finding the gap and filling it in. Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions has a new ‘Hard Mode’ which means you have to manually rotate the pieces you pick up with the L2 and R2 shoulder buttons! This may not sound like much but all the pieces are uniquely shaped, you can’t really go off the image on the shard to guess where it sits in the design, pieces rotate approx eight times (not four), and there can be over 60 shards for a single image. It’s a lot harder than you think.
This mode is great, even though it takes a long time to complete. If you’re going for the platinum, you have to complete every single puzzle on hard mode – there’s no hints or tips after the initial ‘corner’ pieces but you quickly become accustomed to the mechanics, which makes it a little easier.
I’ve completed seventeen puzzles so far (as of writing this review) and that’s easily taken me about 10 hours or so, double the original game and I still have thirteen more puzzles to go! I’ve now achieved the platinum, first in the world, and it took me around 18-22 hours playing it blind on hard mode. The final puzzle is an absolute bitch, with 88 pieces and no initial help with placing ANY of the pieces!
Changes (for better or worse) and missing content
Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions is a sequel, obviously, which means it should have taken previous mechanics and made them better. However, there are a few changes which may or may not be seen as being an ‘improvement’ over the original game. This is what I noted had changed:
• All the windows/puzzles are now circles. This point disappointed me as the original game had different shapes and sizes, meaning that some puzzles were more difficult to complete due to the actual shape of the puzzle itself. But, all of the puzzles in this game are your standard circular design. Don’t get me wrong, the designs look amazing but I would have liked a variety of shapes.
• You can view the completed design. The original game never let you see the final design without completing the puzzle again. This time, you can view the finished image whenever you want. I know most people won’t care about this but I really like the look of them, so I like the fact I can go and take pictures of them if I wish to.
• Just like the first game, Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions doesn’t include any of the DLC which is available on Steam. This is upsetting because the DLC for this particular game re-introduces the different shaped puzzles which were in the first game, based on the images over on Steam. The first game had a free soundtrack and various free and paid DLC packs on PC, but consoles never got any of them, so I’m presuming we won’t get them in this game either – which really is a shame.
I would personally love Digerati to bring out both a Glass Masquerade and Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions DLC pack which adds all the post-launch content from both titles to the games. I’d buy them both in a heartbeat – especially if the soundtracks were included.
When I reviewed the first Glass Masquerade game, I said the visuals were spectacular. Well, the developers have gone above and beyond this time as Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions looks even better with its more defined and detailed stained glass and overall UI aesthetics. The map screen, where you pick your next puzzle, confused me a little at first due to it being a little overwhelming, cluttered, and fiddly to navigate with a controller. But, after a few hours, I grew to love the way it looks and the atmosphere it creates.
Just like last time, the music is very relaxing and makes the overall game much more peaceful in my opinion. I actually went to buy the soundtrack, as it’s not included in the Steam version this time (I bought the first game for the soundtrack), but it doesn’t appear to be on sale – I hope that can be rectified as I’d love to own it. The soundtrack is also by the same musician who scored the first game, Nikita Sevalnev.
I did have one personal issue though (not affecting the overall score. As the game is PS4 Pro supported (possibly a boost in the resolution), the noise of the fan on my launch-model drowns out the music unless I wear headphones! That’s not an issue with the game, just an annoying part of owning a first-edition Pro – the PS5 can’t come soon enough!
Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions easily sits up there as one of my favourite puzzle games. The new ‘hard mode’ really spices things up and stretches out the time it takes to complete a puzzle, making the overall experience much longer and better value. However, despite it getting a little frustrating as the hour approaches and you’re still looking for any pieces that fit, the satisfaction you get at the end is worth it.
The music is a key part of the experience and it does a brilliant job of keeping you focused and subconsciously entertained whilst you concentrate on solving the puzzle. I’m hoping that this time console gamers also get the DLC (as I’ve heard there may be a Cthulhu one on the way), but even without it, there’s hours worth of content to work your way through!
Glass Masquerade 2
- - Very relaxing puzzles with no time limit restrictions or pressure to rush
- - The new 'Hard Mode' makes the game much more challenging and increases the gameplay time
- - Easily takes about 4x as long to platinum as the original game
- - You can now view all the stained glass designs you complete
- - You get a lot of satisfaction for completing the puzzles when playing on Hard
- - All the designs are circles, unlike the first game which had various shapes
- - Once again, no DLC included and based on the first game, we may never get it on consoles
- - The map/puzzle select screen is a little fiddly and cluttered, making it sometimes hard to navigate and pick the next puzzle