By Jaqen_HGhar 8 Comments
I have to thank @drewbert a bunch for making me aware of this game. Without Drew talking about the game on the Game of the Year 2014 podcast I would probably never have bought it. But he did, and I did. And I am richer for it.
While I want to write a lot about the game, what happens, what I think happens, and show images from some of the more impressive stages, I won't. Doing so would be a disservice to the game, as discovering those things yourself is what makes the game so good. But Drew was right. In the beginning there are cubes and blocks. Put together in various ways, sure, but blocks nonetheless. So the moment you encounter a circle... it's weird, in a way. There have been more impressive sights before that, but it still resonates in a way. And it keeps on piling on things.
The closest game I can think of is Journey. In Journey the main event for me was the exploration and feeling of discovery. The music paired with the visuals made it onto a cheerful, sometimes melancholy, thing. It was hopeful, open and vast. Meeting other players made it a happy world. NaissanceE is at times pushing you down, it is claustrophobic, and actually scary in a way. Helped a lot by the sound design, but also by the stark visuals. The hard edges, the black and white. And while it is just as vast as Journey, it almost feels sinister. These are of course feelings, and feelings are highly subjective. Your mileage may vary, but I loved every second of it. Or nearly so.
It has it's bad moments as well. Namely the first person platforming. And there is a lot of it. Mostly it works, and it doesn't task you with that difficult jumps. But there are a few sequences that really ground me down. At a few of them it actually seemed like the game did some course correction, moved a few blocks, thus making it easier. But I am not sure about that, might have been my imagination. If it did, then cool. A game with first person platforming should make steps to make it easier when someone fails at one part over and over. If not, then space and time is even stranger in NaissanceE than I thought.
But for every time I felt frustrated by the platforming, there are three or four moments of slack jawed gawking at something that at first made my mind go "Holy fuck". Then I believe I smiled. Grinned even, as spectacle out of sheer visuals is hard to do these days. I am sure you look across larger areas of space in games like Far Cry 4, and yet the areas of NaissanceE is magnitudes more impressive. And when some of those moments got interrupted by a scary fucking sound in the wall nearby, it quickly turned into "Oh no, I need to move!". And onward you push into the unknown shadows. Which brings me to another thing this game does masterfully, light and dark. The lighting system might be simple, I don't know, but it is really impressive. If there is one game where it is important to follow the suggested gamma settings, it is this.
So I'll echo Drew. Play this. More people should.