I think we can almost all, on some level, identify with Baron Von Sottendorff: experiencing going stir-crazy when trapped inside our homes is common, and the Baron is no exception. The difference, however, is that the Baron is quite literally insane and believes he is legitimately trapped in a moving grid of a house. And thus, The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind is born. After all, everybody needs some help sometimes, and he has been unsuccessful at escaping to date.
At its core, The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind is a giant sliding puzzle. The Baron views rooms as being in a grid, and is able to move them around the same way he would move the square pieces of a sliding puzzle. The controls take some getting used to, as there are two levels of movement: the Baron himself, and the rooms. Zoom out to view/move rooms, or zoom back in to move the Baron. I found it quite annoying at first, in all honesty, but after enough time I was able to get used to it.
As Baron sees the house as a grid, he also sees himself encapsulated in it. At the beginning of a puzzle, the camera will zoom on the door the Baron needs to get to in order to escape. It will also zoom to the key he needs in order to unlock the escape route, as well as a puzzle piece that can be collected to unlock parts of the Baron’s memories. The Baron will then need to use the three-dimensionality of the room and the ability to move all the rooms in order to escape the nightmare that is his own home. Doors can be located at any point along the outer walls, and sometimes when it looks as though they will line up and the Baron can move to the next room they are slightly off. This makes the puzzles challenging but not too difficult, as tracing back your steps is fairly simple (as long as you’re equipped with a good memory).
There is a decent amount of replay value to the game, as each level also contains several photographs. Photographs are not mandatory to escape but they do provide extras such as video clips, music, and concept art. For my fellow perfectionists, this can lead to getting stuck on levels when you refuse to move on without collecting everything. But please don’t fret, as you can always return to past levels whenever the fancy strikes.
From the start, I found it impossible not to compare The Delusions of Von Sottendorff to Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle. Both have stories that take a backseat to the gameplay, which is (annoyingly) common with puzzle games. Both contain a protagonist that needs to escape a house by using rooms as a sliding puzzle. Yet Rooms is the one I would want to return to over Delusions, because it just seemed more polished and graphically pleasing. Regardless of which I prefer, it is clear to me that Delusions isn’t as original as people seem to think as my first thought was “I’ve seen this before.”
The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind has recently won “Best Original Idea” and “Best Spanish Game of the Year” from the Fun & Serious Game Festival, and unfortunately I have no idea why. Perhaps it was up against some equally mediocre competition? The game lacks originality and suffers from a lack of narrative, and those two factors aren’t enough to make up for the decent puzzles. The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind is very much a take-it-or-leave-it game, but I lean more slightly towards the leave-it option as there are more engrossing puzzles available for the 3DS.
– Lindsay M.