Developed by Stately Snail and published by Ratalaika, Access Denied is out now for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4 and the Playstation Vita. It’s a cross-buy title for the last two, and was previously available on Steam. Here’s our review of the Vita version.
I thought the odds of playing something like Statik or Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes on the Vita were pretty slim, until I booted up Access Denied. Sure, it doesn’t have the cooperative/communicative element of Keep Talking or the sensation of feeling like you have two hands trapped inside a puzzle box, but there are definite similarities between Access Denied and two of my favorite VR puzzle titles.
Access Denied provides nothing in terms of narrative development, nor does it offer a tutorial. You get 36 puzzle boxes with different sides to them, and you have to “crack” their secrets in order to progress. Spend enough time in a level and you can skip it, but for most levels logical thinking goes a long way. Initially this is just a case of turning on various switches, but it doesn’t take long before you have to start thinking about which buttons to (not) press and the order in which you do it.
The game also introduces dials, sliders and grid puzzles, and every single one of the 36 puzzles is unique. There are a few of them that had me stumped for a while, but in most cases you’ll be able to see (or uncover) clues as to what you’re supposed to do. They can be written on the back of a puzzle box, or scattered about waiting for you to piece things together.
The Vita version of Access Denied doesn’t have a manual, so I had to experiment a bit with the controls as they’re not all obvious. Most buttons are pointed out to you at the start, but the fact that the right thumbstick gave me the ability to tilt the view up and down escaped me for a while. I was rotating the view with L and R and zooming in an out, but some of the viewing angles were awkward. The PC version solves this with mouse control, so it’s a shame there was no control layout screen in the menu. There’s definitely a little experimenting required, especially when not dealing with a simple button press, but that’s part of the Statik-vibe for me.
When looking at most of the recent Vita releases, we sometimes forget what Sony’s little handheld is capable of. Access Denied has crisp 3D visuals that smoothly render each of the 36 puzzles with plenty of detail. Sure, it’s not a stunning title like Killzone was when that came out, but it’s nice to see a small indie title squeeze 3D graphics like this out of the Vita.
At a very pleasant budget price point, Access Denied is a fun little title for puzzle fans. Being able to skip levels means you don’t have to stay stuck on one of its 36 diverse levels, and there are plenty of walkthroughs online in case you want to go back to that elusive puzzle solution you missed. It’s a little bare bones without a narrative and the control gripes, but it’s definitely worth the price of admission because of how unique it is on the Vita.