I find digital jigsaws far more relaxing than real life ones and that’s because you can often find some cheeky quality of life improvements that help make the experience quicker, easier and more satisfying. Add in video gaming charm and effects and you can find yourself a neat sub genre that’s designed to relax and unwind your brain. Harmony’s Odyssey provides you with cute diorama’s that have been cut into squares and scrambled up. It is up to you to piece them back together again.
First and foremost Harmony’s Odyssey is calming puzzle game. There are no time limits, move limits or particularly difficult puzzles like a giant can of beans to put together. The world that each diorama provides is often full of life, colour, objects and key things to look out for. This means you can quite easily join things up together. Think a pond cut up into quarters so you can easily group them together. Where the game then really excels is in the movement of pieces. You can just swap two around by selecting them but you can also press a button to then pick up all the co-joined squares and move them around the board together. This makes shifting blocks of 2, 4 or 6 so much quicker and easier. The other thing I used often was the ability to highlight what objects were in the right place. One of the few criticisms I have of the level design is that some of the walls look practically identical so by highlighting what’s already in the right place, you can swap blank walls around with ease.
That level design quirk aside, the dioramas are well designed. They usually have something taking place in them so as you piece them back together it all comes to life. They start off as small town or street scenes but later levels switch this up. Some are purely vertical like a cross section of a building or a busy set of shelves in a kitchen. My favourite were levels that contained multiple floors. As you built each one up it gave extra satisfaction to see a building grow and come to life before you. Add on the visual charm, a cute cartoonish soundtrack and responsive controls and you have an easy winner.
Outside of the main story there are some short mini game variants. These are more like hidden object or spot the difference type games with a few slider styled puzzles in for good measure. Unlockable bonus levels are more jigsaw like as they are 2D photos or concept art to play with. They all work but the real joy comes from the 3D dioramas. Harmony’s Odyssey is just a feel good time. Don’t expect difficult challenges but do expect a nice time for a few hours with comic mischief underpinning some satisfying sorting out. Three difficulty modes can tailor your level of rearrangement too so you can go harder for longer puzzles or enjoy the relaxed vibes. Enjoyable.
Review copy provided by developer. Harmony’s Odyssey is out now on Switch and PC.
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