Harmony's Odyssey's adorable shell hides an even more adorable puzzle centre
Too cute to fail
If you don't know that I like puzzle games by now then hello, welcome to the first post of mine that you've ever read. Recently I've been searching for jigsaw puzzle-y things to add to Jigsaw Puzzle Dreams and Glass Masquerade 2, but I also really like cute diorama things like Tiny Lands. Wouldn't it be ideal if there was a game that kind of combined both of thos th- BAH GAWD! That's Harmony's Odyssey's music!
Harmony is a cute witch with both a cat and yer traditional wand that's a stick with a star on the end - the kind of job you could unearth from a regional panto prop basket. The wand's chief (possibly only) ability is dividing the world into equal square portions and then mixing them up. The wisdom of this is not heavily interrogated, nor does it need to be. When Harmony's cat runs off with the wand, the pair cause chaos across several different themed areas (sometimes accidentally, but often on purpose) to escape from all the people who are now cross at them. And if I'm honest, I was't expecting a whole lot from our Harm. The packaging makes it look like a fairly predictable type of cute.
Each 3D area needs to be unscrambled by swapping squares around, and you can tell when you get them in the right places cos the lines join up and you get a little musical sound. Harmony's Odyssey goes a step further though, because the 3D dioramas you get are animated, and putting two correct pieces together can kickstart said animation. If a minotaur is supposed to go next to a van, for example, completing the scene will make him start wrestling the van. Or a piano player will start playing his piano, which might make someone else fall asleep.
The game is peppered with other mini-games (spot the different, or some sokoban-adjacent puzzles), but the diorama puzzles are your principle challenge. They grow larger and more complex as levels progress, usually starting with a four or six piece segment - a penguin at a luggage check-in, for example - before zooming further out. You'll get the security area next to the carousel, then the departures lounge, then the parking spaces outside. But the luggage check-in is still there, it just takes up a couple of squares on a much large puzzle now.
The story progresses each time too, populated by a cast of mythical creatures with a modern, cartoony lick of paint on 'em, and the world operates on kind of Flintstones-meets-Ghibli rules. In the first area of the game, a big snakey-lizard thing comes out of a water tunnel, and it was only when Harmony's cat leapt on it to escape that I realised it was a train. In the airport level, I was confused when a truck appeared outside holding a giant coconut cocktail, until the airplane - a dragon - turned up and started drinking it. The plane was refuelling! I squealed!
Because you cause chaos everywhere you go in this game, you accumulate a troupe of characters tracking you down. One is a cyclops security guard, another a mummy detective, a barbecue enthusiast Cerberus dog, and so on - like a mythical Avengers team, but one that would result in much more interesting fanfiction than any Stark and Stripes slash writer could muster. There are regular little cutscenes where the mummy tracks pawprints in the snow, holding his magnifying glass low to the ground. The minotaur (American) footballer has to find something to grapple in every level.
The puzzles themselves aren't that hard, but they're much more thoughful than I'd cynically predicted. So, too, are the jokes and the story. It's not the "jokes for the parents" kind of deal you get with panto, it's just wholesome little gags that are still funny. A penguin checking in fish as luggage! That's good. The whole thing is so lovely that I'd challenge anyone to not enjoy Harmony's Odyssey on some level. It's unironically delightful, and honestly deserves better than that joke about slash fiction I just made.