GAME REVIEW: Nebulous

What do you get when you put a lonely astronaut who is placed in a situation where an external force aka you, determines whether the astronaut lives or dies. It’s simple. A physics based puzzle game from the team at Namazu Studios called Nebulous. If you’re like me, once you start a puzzle game like this, there’s a few ways to play it. First is obviously to get the astronaut from his starting point to the end portal that will take you to the next level. The second is making sure you get all of the stars, because what’s better than collecting all of the stars right? Finally there is the final piece of how fast can you get the astronaut to safety. With all of those components in place, you have a game that will push your mind to the limits of space to save this witty guy.nebulous-1

Before I dive in to the gameplay, let me focus on the other aspects of the game. Graphically this game is stunning, and full of vibrant colors. The translucent background works well considering you can see the depths of space behind the task at hand. The one aspect that was a little wonky to me, as you’re playing this, the angle of the space you’re working in has that feeling that you’re sitting in the front row at a movie theater. While this was not a major issue while playing the game, the longer I played the more prevalent that angle became. Unfortunately there is not the ability to zoom in or out, which would have been helpful to get the big picture as well as enjoy the full scope of what is on my TV.

Navigating through the game is easy to pick up as you have a cursor that allows you to easily select and move the various pieces that the astronaut will bounce off of to get from point A to point B. Later on in the game, the puzzles get more complex where you will have multiple panels that you will have to plan out the path to get the astronaut to safety.  It is easily readable to find out what pieces are movable and what pieces are not. Along with when you’ve selected a nebulous-2movable piece, the color change makes it very easy to identify, and move around. The physics is the game are such that it makes it easy to figure out the direction that the astronaut will fall, or bounce, or roll, or whatever movement he will make.

Then there’s the stars. These glowing objectives, while they are not the primary objective, you and I both know that we cannot leave a puzzle completed until we’ve collected all the stars. In fact, a little tip of strategy that I implemented: Use the stars to map out the direction of the astronaut. This became very helpful at least for me to get an idea of the general direction I wanted to go. Especially as the astronaut is talking to you as he is falling through this maze of wonder if your plan is going to work, or if Joe (who I am naming instead of the astronaut) is going to die a horrific death, of be stuck for eternity in the abyss between obstacles.

Speaking of Joe, the dialog and random shit that he says brings an additional side of humor to the game. He talks while you’re planning out if he lives or dies, and he talks as he travels through to either the next level, or death. It’s dark I know but someone’s got to say it. Joe’s life depends on you.

The game is also supported on the Oculus, which I can only imagine is going to be quite the VR trip. as you’re immersed in this 3D world of space to save Joe. While I did not have the opportunity to play it in the VR mode, I can imagine how pretty this game looks as you’re engulfed in the game. Is this a game worth getting? I would say so. It’s one of those games where the minimal story plays well to set the stage of what’s going on, but does not require any further “story mode” to make the game exciting, but I’ll admit, it would be interesting down the road to introduce a more in-depth story that could bring new challenges or tactics to save Joe.

All in all the game is fun, and the puzzles are challenging enough that it puts you in a position to think is weird obscure ways to save Joe, or kill him if you’re that kind of person. The goal to complete the puzzles faster than your own personal record becomes an addiction as well as that leaderboard and going faster than your friends. This is definitely the type of game that you could play if you’re on mobile while you’re waiting at the DMV, or if you’re at home on your PC/Mac or Xbox One/PS4 when you want to play for a little bit but don’t have a lot of time to commit to a long mission on other games.

Nebulous is available now on Xbox One, Playstation 4, or on PC/Mac and on Steam.

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