Nick has a lot of games. In the semi-regular column Backlog Assault, Nick will dig into this backlog of games, pull one out, play it, and write about how It makes him feel.
Admittedly, I have not had NaissanceE in my backlog for very long. I picked it up a month or so ago, as part of the Humble Weekly Bundle: Monochromatic, NaissancE ultimately being the deciding factor in my purchase, because I had heard about how striking its visual style is. I can be a sucker for unique visuals in games, it can get me to play a game I might not normally, or continue to play a game I’d sooner not. In terms of visual style, NaissanceE delivers in a big way. It’s not the perfect game, but for a short first-person story told with no words, it’s pretty darn good, and damn does it look good.
Check out the trailer if you haven’t seen it yet.
So obviously the game looks pretty, but it’s more than that. The game, especially at the very beginning, is based a lot on light and dark. The contrast created by the game’s unique visual style plays directly into gameplay, light not only being used directly as a tool to solve some basic puzzles, but also illuminating platforms that are otherwise invisible. The light and dark contrast becomes an integral part of how you play the game in a very interesting way. As the game goes on, it loses a bit of that style, but introduces new mechanics, and still continues to look really cool.
The story is very vague, in the best way, in that most of it is left up to the imagination of the player. The game begins with the first scene of the trailer, Lucy running from some sort of… dark energy and winds up in a stark white temple-like building. Lucy decides that she doesn’t like it here, and she wants to leave, and that’s the entirety of NaissanceE. The only words in the entire game come in the form of chapter titles, and nothing is ever spoken. Yet, I was still intrigued by the “story” of NaissanceE. Left with no real answers, the player is left to create the story for themselves. I think that the vague narrative structure gives NaissanceE a lot of charm.
The game is not without its flaws, however, as I found myself exceedingly lost and frustrated more than once. There is one area of the game that seems to exist only as a trap for players, punishing exploration. A segment in that same chapter involved riding “elevators” down the sides of huge walls, their uneven shape making the task exceedingly difficult. Small moments of difficult platforming had me repeating bits of chapters over and over when I fell to my death. Then, towards the end of the game, areas that are far too large, and have you wandering aimlessly. During each of these segments, I considered putting the game down, but ultimately decided that I wanted to stick with the game because I wanted to see the ending. Knowing that the ending was, at its farthest, about four hours way, was the biggest factor in pressing on. Generally, I found that NaissancE had good direction, for a game that doesn’t tell you at all where to go, but there were some moments were I faltered.
NaissanceE is undeniably unique, and I think anyone looking for a new experience should try this game. It’s not for everyone, but its flaws are easily overlooked, and NaissanceE proves itself a very interesting short game experience.
Check out some more awesome screenshots I took: