When I first saw The Plane Effect the thing that initially stood out to me was the atmosphere. The game looked like it had an interesting dystopian future theme that reminded me a lot of some indie games that I have enjoyed in the past. Along with the atmosphere, I was also intrigued by the puzzle elements as I try to check out every puzzle game. The Plane Effect does such a great job creating an interesting world to explore which unfortunately is let down by its gameplay.
In The Plane Effect you play as a worker who has had a long day at work. You decide that it is time to finally head home to see your family as everyone else has already left. As you leave your office you discover that your way home is not exactly how you remember it. You peer into the sky and see an nefarious force looming over everything. What should be a simple journey home is made much more difficult due to continuous obstacles that get in your way. Can you overcome all of these obstacles and finally make it home?
If I were to describe The Plane Effect I would say that it feels like a combination of an adventure game mixed with a puzzle game. The game has a number of different types of puzzles. Some deal with memory, some involve light platforming, and others involve little minigames. I would say that a large majority of the puzzles revolve around finding the objects that you can interact with in the environment and then figuring out the order in which to interact with them in order to solve the puzzle.
As a fan of puzzle games I found this element to be solid but not the game’s greatest strength. The puzzles can be a little hit or miss. Some of the puzzles are pretty well designed where there is a logical set of steps that you have to follow in order to solve them. A lot of the game’s best puzzles are towards the middle to end of the game. I thought these puzzles were pretty good even if you could brute force your way through them.
A lot of the puzzles follow a trial and error approach though. Basically you need to find all of the objects that you can interact with and then interact with them until you find the right combination. The problem with these puzzles is that the logic is not that straightforward and the game doesn’t give you enough context clues to make it more clear what you are supposed to do . Thus you are usually better off just trying random combinations until you come upon the right solution.
Honestly the hardest part of a lot of these puzzles is just finding the things that you can interact with. Usually it is pretty obvious, but there are times where you basically have to carefully explore every nook and cranny to find the last thing you can interact with. This can get a little frustrating as your struggles in the game will have more to do with finding the items you can interact with rather than figuring out how the puzzle is supposed to be solved. Normally I would ignore the hint system in this type of game, but there were times in the game where it was helpful as it points you towards the next object that you are supposed to interact with. If you have the setting turned on you just need to hold a button to activate/deactivate it. This guide was helpful in finding things to interact with that otherwise would have taken a long time to find.
Ultimately I found the gameplay to be decent, but it has its flaws. This is compounded by the fact that the game has a number of small glitches/bugs which can sometimes impact gameplay. The controls are also not always the most precise. There are only a couple parts of the game where the controls not being perfect creates an issue. Sometimes you need to be in the perfect position for the game to recognize that you want to interact with an item. I also occasionally fell off platforms which forced me to restart sections because it is not always easy to see where you currently are due to the game’s perspective.
The biggest glitch for me though happened near what I assume was near the end of the game. As I was moving around the environment I somehow ended up kicking an item that I had to pick up. This ended up knocking the object off the screen to a location where I could no longer reach it. After trying everything I could and even consulting the hint system to verify that I needed to pick up the item, I quit to the menu to restart the game from the last checkpoint. When I returned to the game it was basically broken where the character fell down a pit and there was nothing to interact with. At this point I can’t proceed in the game until this bug is fixed. For this reason I was unable to beat the game as I can’t proceed past this point. I was playing the game on Nintendo Switch when this happened. Hopefully the developers are able to fix this bug along with the other bugs.
With the gameplay out of the way, it is time to move onto the game’s atmosphere and story. These areas are in my opinion the game’s greatest strength.
Let’s begin with the story. I am not going to go into a lot of detail for a couple of reasons. First to avoid spoilers. Second I haven’t completely finished the game yet. Finally I don’t know for sure what is going on. The story starts off pretty straightforward but as you progress things start to change and become pretty weird as some strange force is preventing you from returning home. Maybe the game’s end will make things more clear, but The Plane Effect feels like the type of game that is kind of up to interpretation as more is told through the environment itself than directly to you through the plot and cutscenes.
The atmosphere is where the game really shines. It is hard to describe the game’s visual style exactly, but it looks a lot like games like Inside and other dystopian future style games. The game uses a lot of muted colors, but occasionally adds in some colors to make them really stand out. Outside of the character’s weird run animation, the visuals are really good and create a really interesting world that I wanted to explore. If the game’s visual style is what initially intrigued you about the game, you won’t be disappointed by this aspect of the game.
As for the game’s length I can’t give you an exact estimate as I haven’t completed the game yet along with a number of other factors. How long it takes you to solve the puzzles and how much you explore versus just moving from objective to objective will make a difference in how long it will take you to beat the game. If I had to make an educated guess I would probably estimate the game taking around 5-6 hours. Outside of playing through the story again, I don’t see the game having a whole lot of replay value.
Ultimately I had mixed feelings about The Plane Effect. The game does a great job with the atmosphere and story. At times you might not know what is going on in the story, but the game does a good job creating a world that you want to explore. The visuals are quite good as well. As for the gameplay it is more hit and miss. There were parts of the gameplay that I genuinely enjoyed. Some of the puzzles are pretty clever and fun to solve. Unfortunately too many of the puzzles basically become an exercise of finding the right order to interact with the objects to open a path forward. When you add in that some of the objects that you have to interact with are hard to find along with the controls not always working great, the gameplay can be a little frustrating at times. Then there are some bugs that are mostly minor but may force you to restart from the beginning of the chapter. I even encountered a bug that has basically made it impossible for me to proceed.
My recommendation for The Plane Effect mostly comes down to your thoughts on the overall theme and atmosphere. If you are more interested in the gameplay, I don’t know if the game will be for you as while it is decent there are much better puzzle games out there. Those that are intrigued by the game’s atmosphere and theme though and don’t mind that the gameplay takes a secondary role, should enjoy The Plane Effect and should consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Innovina/StudioKiku and PQube Limited for the review copy of The Plane Effect used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.