Pavilion - Hands-On Impressions

A puzzle adventure set in a surrealistic painting. Sign us up!

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It's the kind of game that immediately draws your eye. It looks different and it's aesthetically appealing. It's also a good example of how Sony are working with indies today.

Rickard Westman and Henrik Flink are the artist/programmer duo that makes up Visiontrick Media. Both attended a game development class a number of years back, went their separate ways, and then decided to give game development a go a couple of years back. Pavilion is the culmination of everything - a small indie puzzle adventure that somehow made it to the main stage at Sony's Tokyo Game Show press conference. The duo had been in talks with Sony, clearly enticed by the openness and willingness to work with indies, when they got the call if they wanted to be part of the press conference. It's the kind of spotlight any game developer would dream of and they naturally jumped on it as they were already a part of the TGS indie showcase.


Pavilion is an in-direct puzzle adventure. Or as Visiontrick so eloquantly put it on their TGS poster - "a fourth person puzzle adventure about guidance and subliminal control". Seemingly light on story, or rather we're not being told anything about the story apart from what we can gather from the setting at this stage. The basic premise is that neither the player nor the character we're guiding through this dream-like world has any idea of what this place is. There will be clues to discover along the journey and the approach reminded us a bit of Myst. Perhaps the atmosphere and solitude contributes to this.

When we say the game is being indirectly controlled what we mean is that the player manipulates the environment in order to see the on screen character progress. We're treated to an isometric perspective on a world that is extremely rich on detail and ever so slightly surrealistic. In many ways it looks as if we're playing an interactive painting.


The puzzles we encountered involved lamps, the avatar will avoid darkness and opt for a different path it the lamp is turned off, bells that attract the avatar and blocks that can be moved around blocking or opening up routes. We have a feeling that the bells will tie into the "subliminal control" theme somehow, but other than that it seems our avatar is just striving towards the next gate or portal to further his progress. This introductory demo or vertical slice lasted around 7-8 minutes and was fairly basic with as many as three elements involved in a puzzle. We imagine the complexity will increase as you progress adding different objects to interact with and longer chains. There is a no-fail element to and the idea is that once you've figured out what to do with the various points of interaction the actual execution won't present a challenge.

The demo we tried ran on a PC with a DualShock 3 as controller, but since Visiontrick Media are using the Unity engine, porting it over to the target platforms - PS Vita and PlayStation 4 - shouldn't be of major concern. It's a game that puts aesthetics first and it comes out looking like nothing you've played before. Pavilion is set to launch on PS Vita and PlayStation 4 in the spring of 2014.


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