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Introduction
Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions is the right type of sequel which understands that it’s not enough to simply add more content compared to the predecessor. Improving the formula through another stylistic approach, has only benefitted this title which I consider apart of a sleeper hit series for the literal puzzle subgenre. Developer and publisher Onyx Lute has been around Steam since 2016 and I have also reviewed the initial Glass Masquerade at its release date. Expectations were high for the sequel, since I saw the creative potential exhibited by GM 1’s DLC packs which served as an “intermezzo”. I wasn’t disappointed.

Story
The initial game which sparked the series, went for an Art Deco style which envisioned national symbols as part of a World Exhibition concept spanning the globe and taking players across imaginary trips through countries on nearly all continents. The nations in question were represented by various cultural symbols defining their identity without any hint of controversy in sight. As for the puzzles themselves, they revolved around a clock pattern of various size and shape. Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions sets itself apart through not only a thematic overhaul, but also by raising the proverbial stakes through a more complex planning of the puzzle reconstruction. Yes, on top of being fully abstract, GM 2 is also a tad more difficult than the previous entry. That is a good thing and I shall address it further below. For now let’s focus on the game’s improvement on the narrative segment since unlike Glass Masquerade, the sequel now features riddles which form a blurry picture right until the conclusion.

Abstract and absurd symbolism in the vein of Lewis Carrol’s writings, point towards a focal point upon keys and locks behind every single mystery/puzzle you shall assemble. Each lock poses a question or offers a statement which can make sense or not. Similarly, the key you shall gain after completing the puzzle itself may raise further questions instead of providing answers. GM 2’s narrative thread leaves plenty of room for debating and I consider it fitting given the gameplay and circumstances. We don’t even have clock patterns anymore. A standardised circular design has taken its place and while it may seem like a step backawards, keep in mind that certain puzzles are now several times larger than the ones in the previous entry. It’s all about fragmentation, you see. The imagery which eventually gets revealed as a direct result of your efforts, may seem like a modernist interpretation of various myths. I simply like to view them as perfect opportunities for self-reflection.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1682059264

Graphics
It uses the Unity Engine in a similar fashion to its predecessor, yet Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions features carefully crafted puzzles which mimic the stained glass effect in scenes of adequate complexity. This type of artwork has fascinated me for quite some time and I certainly don’t want it to be showcased only by various cults and religions. Art should always be universal, afterall. It has transcended medieval times, so the need for symbolism has diversified as well. Strictly regarding our game, I had no performance issues whatsoever. It scaled perfectly to my native resolution and never featured any frame drops or glitches. It will most likely run flawlessly for you as well. If this is the type of eye candy you’ve been looking for, GM 2 shall gladly provide.

Audio
Repetitive sounds are an issue which this title has unfortunately inherited from Glass Masquerade. No voice acting since the riddles are only appearing as text boxes in a splendid font. The silence is still felt and regretted. Only thing which will truly improve the experience in this case, represents the muting of all sounds and simply listening to your own custom playlists. Epic music was my choice but feel free to experiment to your heart’s desires.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1709442534

Gameplay
Players shall discover 31 puzzles in the base version of Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions. The first one in the series offered 25 “national clocks” in its basic form, while DLCs increased the showcasing all the way to 41. The truly interesting change however, stems from the futher fragmentation of the puzzle pieces themselves. I have kept dozens of screenshots with both games from the GM series, as I do with all my played Steam games in fact. These images served as excellent examples of sequel progression. In GM 1, the shard number averages at 50 while the sequel pushes this limit to 70 and even 80 pieces per individual puzzle in the late-game phase. One fully justifiable aspect which was criticised in the past version, was the overall simplicity and lack of difficulty. Glass Masquerade 2 offers the gameplay options of deactivating any help which was offered upon initial assembly. You can choose to have no hangers (first few pieces which were highlighted in their exact position on the puzzle) as well as a randomised angle for the shards themselves.

It is the ideal approach concerning difficulty. It allows players to rotate individual puzzle pieces until they manage to fit them in the circular design, eventually forming a (somewhat) coherent image while also conveying a message upon completion. You can still choose the “Normal” difficulty which automizes shard placement to a certain extent. If you don’t want to miss out on half of this game’s Steam Achievements, go for the “Hard” difficulty setting and never look back. Play them as they’re meant to and in the same fashion you might assemble a puzzle in real life. A literal web of mysteries awaits you, while the central piece shall obviously unlock lastly. Take your time, I found it quite relaxing to complete a single puzzle per session, instead of aiming for multiple ones in a single sitting. Considering that you can spend even an hour on an individual puzzle on its highest difficulty setting, I’d say that the intellectual effort shall be fully compensated if it's coupled with patience.

Verdict
I shall rate it precisely as its predecessor, since nothing has been lost even if not much has been gained from a gameplay perspective, while the audio assets still represent an Achilles' heel nonetheless. Onyx Lute is a developer which actually underprices its projects, if you ask me. Rare and odd as it may seem, I find that the Glass Masquerade series bundles frequently and goes on Steam Sales even more often. Is it a good thing? Not for me to say, but from a gamer’s perspective, this really should leave no room for excuses regarding GM’s purchase and playtrough. If you like puzzles but also desire some “spice” in the form of abstract riddles, by all means give Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions a well-deserved chance to share its intricacies with you. Whatever you may learn, treasure it just as those riddles are kept under such a tight lock.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1732761848

Strong Points
+ Abstract.
+ Beautiful art style.
+ Steam Achievements & Trading Cards.
+ Complex puzzles offering the right amount of challenge.

Weak Points
- Repetitive sounds.
- Abstract.

Rating 80/100

This review was submitted for Imperial Reviews through the generous contribution of the game’s developer and the Curator Connect program. Following my Curator Page, will help me keep publishing new reviews as soon as I can. I appreciate your support!
shattered fractal 12 hours ago 
+rep trading partner and game reviewer, thanks for trade :woo::Rae:
MayheM7 May 19 @ 3:50pm 
 
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★ Have an awesome week my friend ★
 
ebbigloo May 9 @ 1:37pm 
+rep, thank you for the trade!
Arnas May 7 @ 5:33am 
+rep great trader
Revadike May 5 @ 5:39am 
+REP UN0W3N is an amazing trader, recommended!
MayheM7 May 4 @ 8:32pm 
 
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▒▒ HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND! ▒▒
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