The puzzles in Safecracker lack instructions and hints. That's why they're so satisfying to conquer.
Don't be fooled: this is a game about puzzles, not safes. In fact, there's not one traditional safe in the whole game. Instead, Safecracker: The Ultimate Puzzle Adventure for Wii features over thirty contraptions that need solving, most of them involving unique and intriguing brain teasers, all in the quest to recover an eccentric billionaire's will. That could very well be enough of a setup for puzzle lovers to tinker out the game's entertainment, but most others will find the game's worth the biggest mystery of all.
It's a good thing then that the puzzles in the game are so mentally engaging. Except for a few key or password based locks, Safecracker: The Ultimate Puzzle Adventure offers a menagerie of different puzzle concepts, each one unique to the device it unlocks. And each time you discover a new puzzle, you'll need to start from square one in discovering its unique mechanisms with no hints or instructions—only your own problem-solving skills. This means that given an array of buttons with arrows on them pointing in seemingly random directions, it's completely up to you to deduce the correct order in which they must be pressed. Even an ordinary sliding puzzle takes on a whole new light when you have no visual reference for the image you're reconstructing, only your own intuition.
This not only increases the challenge, but the feeling of accomplishment as well. Overcoming the lack of instructions or guidance to discover a pattern or solution is where Safecracker: The Ultimate Puzzle Adventure feels genuinely rewarding.
The other components of the game exist merely to tie those moments together for the five hours it takes to complete the game, assuming you don't get stumped. The graphics are entirely two-dimensional, though the game offers the illusion of a three-dimensional environment using what looks like screenshots of a pre-rendered environment that are stitched together at their edges. The effect resembles techniques like Quicktime VR. The end result is fairly believable, except that the lighting and shadows never change, mirrors don't show accurate reflections, and there's a slight fish-eye distortion when looking at the seams. It's an admirable and economical solution.
But despite the unambitious graphics, there are noticeable load times whenever players move from one location to another. The waits are short, but they add up when you're trying to move across the entirety of the mansion. Additionally, clicking to move around can be disorienting because the game preserves your original viewing angle when you move: in the real world, you would instead turn to face in the direction you're traveling. The end result is an experience that ultimately feels crude.
The game's sound is also underwhelming. The tunes in Safecracker: The Ultimate Puzzle Adventure are appropriately mysterious and low-key, but they're so short and there are so few of them that by the time you unlock a new melody, it almost seems like a glorious reward. The saving grace in this department is the main character's voice, a sort of puzzle-oriented Sherlock Holmes. Since you never meet another person in the course of the game, the English-tinted voice of the expert safe-cracker you're playing as is the one link you have to humanity. You only hear it occasionally, like when you find a note or letter, and the stereotypical accent won't win any awards, but it's a welcome companion in the loneliness of a mansion full of safes.
And in the end, that's all Safecracker: The Ultimate Puzzle Adventure is: the lonely home of an eccentric billionaire, with puzzles and safes to unlock in every room. There's enough in that set-up for a few hours of genuine do-it-yourself puzzling. But if you're looking for anything other than that, you may just find Safecracker unsolvable.