Game: Varenje – Don’t Touch the Berries
Genre: Puzzle, Hidden Object
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam titled Varenje, Complete Edition (Windows, Mac))
Developer | Publisher: Play Cute | Joybits
Age Rating: US Everyone | EU 3+
Price: US $7.99 | UK £7.99 | EU € 7,99
Release Date: October 26th 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Joybits.
While I don’t often play Hidden Object games, they can be a good way to chill over a cup of coffee, provided they aren’t too difficult for me. The description of Varenje – Don’t Touch the Berries appealed to me with “finding my inner child on a little summer’s day with a raspberry jam adventure.”
Varenje – Don’t Touch the Berries is a cute, colourful point-and-click adventure with several puzzles and mini-games made by artists for anyone who considers games to be an art. The backstory is in the description: “our hero was spending summer happily at the cosy cottage until curiosity forced him to sample an unknown berry at the stream. Before he knew it, everything had become incredibly large, and he was reduced to the size of a bug!”
Let’s see what the eight hand-crafted chapters bring me!
Hand Made Scenery
There’s no tutorial, you find yourself in a scene that must have sprung from a very imaginative mind. There’s nothing for you to do but click on things and hope something happens. And in Varenje, it usually does. Every chapter has a couple of different scenes you can visit. Each is connected with the red and white striped arrows you see in the image below. As is usual in point-and-click puzzles, one thing leads to another.
Finding a key means you can get a chest open. Collecting eight drops of water means a bucket can be filled, and clicking on ten springs combines them into one to use on a machine. You get the drift. It’s not about collecting items all the time. Puzzles are triggered of various kinds, like finding the 9 differences in the scene below. And in every scene, there are a number of raspberries to collect.
Hint System Based on Raspberries
It’s well implemented, but it didn’t feel very logical. But then, looking at the world you are in, maybe it doesn’t have to be. The journey is in perusing over every screen to find what you are looking for, and getting new tasks in the same chapter after that.
When you are stuck (and I was from time to time), you can click on the little? when it’s surrounded by a glowing circle in the upper left corner. But you don’t get the hint straight away: you have to solve a sliding puzzle.
In the puzzle, you must slide the pink squares to the squares that have a raspberry depicted. As you can only go up/down and left/right, it takes a bit of sliding to get it just right. It does get easier, however, as after a while, you know what to do and how to make it work.
Most of the time, the hint shows up on the screen with a lighted arrow pointing when you need to click. But it doesn’t always produce a hint; I’ve solved it many times with no visible results.
Clicking, Touching and Caution
As I’ve never gotten past the wonder of the touch screen of the DS and 3DS, I tried playing Varenje – Don’t Touch the Berries by using the touch screen of the Switch. It didn’t work flawlessly, though, so eventually I resorted to clicking with the A and B buttons.
The music accompanying your journey is nice, and visually, the game looks great. It does have a weird vibe going, echoed in the artwork of the scenes. I must add that while this may seem like a great game for any age, I wouldn’t let younger children play it alone.
In between the chapters, you see a slide show telling a story from the perspective of someone who seems to be admitted to an asylum (or is having seriously disturbing nightmares). You see scenes with some text that are just downright strange and disturbing. Referencing to games with texts like “I’ve played GTA and then killed a couple of people”, after which they go on telling why several victims had to die. It might seem fun to some, but not for me, and it’s not suitable for children. It really detracted from the serene gameplay for me. I have no idea why the developers put this into the game.
Varenje – Don’t Touch the Berries is a good point-and-click adventure with very interesting scenes to puzzle through. The solutions to move things along and reach the next chapter aren’t always logical. But judging by the slide shows in between the chapters, logic wasn’t what the developers were going for. These scenes felt jarring for me, as the things I saw and the texts didn’t fit the world I had just perused intensively. This makes it a game I wouldn’t let younger children play alone.
Just in case you are curious: Varenje is a whole-fruit preserve popular across Eastern Europe. Hence the reference to the raspberries. According to the info about the game, Grandmother’s raspberry jam is a remedy for all ills, and it’s certainly the solution to right everything in the end. If only it was…
Final Verdict: I Like It