A Melburnian nerd of 27 years and counting. A podcaster, critic, writer and developer of games. Uncovering the hidden indie gems, and exposing the dark underside of the AAA industry.
March 20, 2021
Business Goose Studios
Sizeable is but the latest of an emerging genre in the indie space of size-altering puzzlers. It’s a game that purposefully aims to be a small, snacky experience. So small that it may even alienate more steadfast gamer types. However, despite any concerns I may have over the size of the project, Sizeable still proves to be a well-designed and enjoyable piece of entertainment.
Sizeable is all about packing a small experience with a lot of detail. It’s therefore rather appropriate that all the levels are described as “dioramas”. Each diorama has many little low poly models with all manner of landmarks, animals, mechanical items and the like littered throughout. This is very much a game of experimentation and discovery, and the game ensures there is all manner of hidden nooks and crannies to explore. You’ll be interacting with the dioramas, discovering all of the hidden characteristics, solving the puzzle and moving on to the next one. Overall the presentation does a great job of preserving the “indie” feel. It feels very handcrafted, homegrown and cosy.
All this great presentation supports simple but smart core gameplay. Each diorama holds lots of objects that can be interacted with in a few ways. Relocate some objects, resize others, or do both if the situation allows. This can be as simple as shrinking or growing a battery to fit into a slot. From the top, it must be said that Sizeable is working with a good concept. It’s what really draws attention to this title.
“…shrinking or growing environmental objects changes the entire diorama in some funny, yet logically coherent ways.”
The idea of resizing objects to solve puzzles, whilst looking flashy, could have felt a bit one-dimensional. And sure, early stages follow that very basic, one-dimensional mindset as an introduction. But then subsequent levels utilise different ideas, finding various correlations between the scale of an object and other attributes. Growing objects makes them heavier and slower, whilst the opposite effects are embued on shrunken objects. Changes in scale affect manoeuvrability, or functionality, or the positional relationship of some objects. In some notable examples, shrinking or growing environmental objects changes the entire diorama in some funny yet logically coherent ways. Each diorama has some measure of thematic elements that also play directly into the unique scaling ideas brought to the table.
There is one disadvantage to bringing up new rules in each new diorama. Invariably, on some of these levels, the path from beginning to end could feel a bit arbitrary. There are a few dioramas where the next step was not exactly straight forward. Placing an object on an icon representing the object makes sense. Knowing that I must change the size of the object to then progress is less obvious. Of course, the counterargument here is that the relative simplicity and minimalism to each level means there’s not much messing about to find those answers anyway. The limited objects to interact with ultimately means you’ll stumble onto answers in good time. Does it excuse the hard to follow logic? Probably not. Although the main frustration with following a puzzle game’s thread is getting stuck. The small scope of the levels in Sizeable means that leaps of logic don’t really end up being much of an obstacle to progress, and thus no great barrier to my enjoyment.
“This game is, to put it mildly, brief. I managed to clear the entire game in under an hour.”
This game is, to put it mildly, brief. I managed to clear the entire game in a bit under an hour. I don’t personally subscribe to the idea that comparing a game’s length to its price is a good indication of value. In fact, some of my favourite games are densely-packed and short experiences that don’t draw things out. Sizeable fits into this category, but its miniature nature raises some other questions.
Sizeable really feels like it would be more at home on a mobile app store than on PC. This is not meant to be some kind of dig at the quality on offer, because the quality is superb. Although I can’t look past the fact that on average I was clearing levels in only a few minutes each. It feels odd I suppose to sit down to play games and decompress for 30 minutes, just to find myself already halfway through the entire game. Maybe I shouldn’t penalise a game for being the level of indie that it is, but it’s hard not to let the transient nature of the game influence my overall sentiment.
Sizeable in the grand scheme of things is a very well-crafted game. There has been a lot of work and effort put in to ensure this small project is packed densely with great ideas. The core mechanic, whilst simple in execution, is used to achieve an impressive array of effects, which make for some entertaining puzzles. The length of the game may disappoint some, but with the game sitting at an equally bite-sized price, I would encourage those interested to absolutely check it out anyway.