A game I so very much wanted to like, but in the end, just didn’t, was Donut County. It had so much in place, the gorgeous art, the brilliant conceit, but in the end it came to almost nothing. Another similar-looking puzzle game I always wanted to play was Steve Swink’s Scale, but goodness me, who knows what’s happened to that – the last round of updates came in 2018, and it seems to have disappeared once again. So it is with some delight that I can report someone has finally managed to make something of the size-changing objects puzzling genre, in the form of Sizeable.
The biggest issue with Donut County was the lack of inspired ideas or tricky situations for which you could use the game’s magical growing hole. I suspect the biggest issue with the vapourware Scale is that there are too many ideas, too complicated to successfully shape into a coherent game. Sizeable, while by no means a perfect game, still seems to find a sweet spot somewhere between the two. Its main flaw is certainly that it leans too much toward the Donut County simplicity, but there are at least some inventive puzzles here, even if the whole game is a little too easy.
The concept here is little vignette levels, like dioramas, in which your task is to find and place three monoliths. To do this, you resize various items and objects in each level, manipulating the scene, building paths, exploding dynamite, disturbing birds, and what have you. Each level is utterly gorgeous, with size-changing objects easily identified with the mouse cursor, then immediately grown or shrunk with the mouse wheel. Some can be moved, others are fixed in place, and it’s with this mechanic that all your interaction takes place.
At the game’s best you’re building crazy gold courses, or finding batteries to build circuits to power machines to reveal surprises. At its weakest you’re just making stuff big or small and the monoliths are falling out. Both are satisfying, but the latter is always a bit of a disappointment. That’s especially the case with the lack of a difficulty curve across the base 21 levels. If anything, they’re at their most intriguing in the first group of seven, with too many latter levels feeling far less involved. Yet, it’s all so lovely, and so fun to play with as a toy, that this isn’t an enormous issue.
That’s the success here. It’s a toy first, a puzzle game second, but the puzzles are there. Working out how to tip over mine carts, or align peculiar grey stones so they consume a glowing red gem, or changing the weather so the wind blows a windmill to power a machine to move a wall… that’s all so fun! There are levels where you can change the seasons, others where you control the tides. So many brilliantly inventive ideas, crammed into 21 differently themed levels. Then on top of that there are five extra hidden levels to discover, plus bonus items to find across them all. Also, the game’s ending suggests another set of levels are on their way soon!
It’s all good enough that I’m just able to get past my bemusement that the development studio is called Business Goose Studios while their logo is a penguin. That’s causing me physical anguish.
Special mention needs to go to the music by Jamal Green, which is utterly lovely, and a perfect accompaniment to the gentle puzzles, and indeed to writing this review.
I do wish it had become much more difficult as it went along. It never really gets off the starting blocks there, and it’d have been really splendid to have levels that absorbed me for more than a couple of minutes each. But this is gorgeous stuff, and it’s a pleasure to play either way. Finally someone’s figured out a successful way to use the size-changing magics!