If you want a bungalow, look somewhere else
One of the most pleasing feelings as a games reviewer is when you sit down to play something that sets out to be different from the get-go. Yes, we love our controller-based games, we love waving our Joy-Cons around like tennis rackets and we love using things like Skylanders and Starlink to bring toys to life in the medium of video games. But while some games take inspiration from these ideas and churn out something similar, Madorica Real Estate offers a fresh experience.
It’s certainly not the game that you think it’s going to be when you first pick it up. This isn’t about the wheeling and dealing of the finest homes on the property market. No, Madorica Real Estate is a puzzle game that has you play your way out of rooms by solving the puzzles held within them – with emphasis placed on physically printing out blueprints of the room from the internet to use for hints and tips. You’re going to need pen and paper for this video game, which is almost a hark back to the 90s and its days of cheat codes and player-written tips for completing games.
Basically, in each level you’re looking for a code made up of button inputs which will cast a spell that will move you to the next room, or alternatively use magical powers to attack spirit enemies which loiter within the rooms’ four walls. Certain button combinations, you’ll figure out, do different things, with one offering an X-Ray function which allows you to see through objects obscuring clues.
This is a game you can neatly categorise in the “wacky and oriental” section of videogames. Back in the day, we’d have been fortunate to see a game of this kind reach Western shores, such is its niche premise and execution. But Madorica Real Estate’s migration hasn’t quite been seamless – some of the translation work is quite brutal and haphazard, and as a result can act as a disconnect for players in this part of the world.
You have to do a lot of thinking through the game’s puzzles too, even if you are using the printed-out floor plans as intended. It may not be immediately obvious about the order you need to press buttons in even if you find the correct ones, so solving the puzzles can employ a good amount of trial and error with your pencil and paper. It’s not as if the puzzle solutions leap out of the screen at you, so the challenge level is always there, but you’re also given a countdown timer to contend with for added pressure as you figure things out. It’s quite a long one, but entering the wrong button combinations will result in penalties, so a few erroneous decisions can soon whittle your thinking space down.
All told, the puzzles in Madorica Real Estate don’t actually set the world alight, but they do stand out in the memory because of how they are delivered. The game does nail the sense of achievement you need when you complete a puzzle, but doesn’t quite deliver the moreish bliss of a Piczle Lines DX. Nonetheless, it makes its mark even if it is rough around the edges.
Madorica Real Estate
Rough around the edges, Madorica Real Estate does well in managing to still be unique enough to be memorable. It’s not puzzling perfection, but it’s certainly fun to work out.