There's finally a reason to dust off those augmented reality cards that came with your PlayStation Vita. While there have been an abundance of titles that support the laminated rectangles, Open Me's brain teasers really make digging them out a worthwhile endeavour. This is a fun, engaging, and quirky puzzle game that forces you to, ahem, think outside of the box.
If you've ever played The Room on iOS or Android, then you'll have a rough idea of what to expect from PlayStation C.A.M.P!'s latest experiment. Each level involves a different augmented reality box, which you must open by manipulating fiendish mechanisms, avoiding traps, and turning the cogs within your noggin. The augmented reality aspect works perfectly: you slap a card on a flat surface, point the Vita's camera at it, and from there you'll be able to investigate every side of the polygonal cube that appears on the screen. You can tap, touch, and swipe these boxes to look for clues, and once you've finally prised one open, you'll move onto the next riddle.
It's simple, but it's tremendous fun. Boxes range from the very simple – such as sliding clips on the front – to the highly technical, with electronic components, combinations, and buttons that need to be pushed in just the right order to yield any kind of results. It's like stepping into the shoes of Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, and the world's greatest security expert all at once, with traps such as rotating blades threatening to remove your virtual finger tips should you fiddle too close to them. Sometimes you'll need to bypass security measures to get inside the box, like cameras that prevent you from accessing the rear. And there are a whopping 48 of these puzzles waiting for you to tackle, available in packs of four or more.
How fast you solve each stage determines the amount of experience points that you'll earn, which – in addition to the usual roster of Trophies – gives you plenty of incentive to replay the levels and solve the puzzles in the fastest time possible. Unfortunately, the technology can get in the way of your pursuit for a super speedy finish, as moving around the AR cards in an excited fashion can cause the camera to lose sight of the target, wasting precious seconds while everything recalibrates. It's a quick process, but it can pull you out of the experience a touch, and mess up an otherwise swift attempt. We found this to be a particular problem on the more complex boxes, where the required inputs grow in complexity and holding the Vita in place becomes a real pain.
Single player isn't the only option on offer in Open Me, though, with co-operative multiplayer allowing up to two people to collaborate via ad-hoc to solve puzzles. This brings a new dynamic to the action, but does require you knowing another Vita owner in person to play. A further Challenge Box mode allows you to create your own boxes from puzzle components and send them to your friends. You gain experience for solving cubes, as well as constructing ones that are difficult to solve, and as this accumulates, you'll unlock access to even more complex components to use on your own creations. It's really satisfying when you stump your buddies, and this whole player creation aspect extends the life of the title beyond its core campaign.
Open Me is tough but a ton of fun. Solving the puzzles is an enormously satisfying experience, and the online creation aspect is a brilliant idea. The augmented reality can be a touch finicky in places, but creative design ensures that the title eschews the gimmicky nature of similar releases. Don't be a square and give this one a go.