274 of 295 people (93%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
8.0 hrs on record
Posted: February 12, 2014
Thirty minutes in: So I'm about thirty minutes into NaissanceE and it's as atmospheric and otherworldly as you might have hoped. The environments are expansive, monolithic, not in terms of being open to exploration but in terms of sheer scale. You feel small, lost and utterly alone in this world. It's a world that feels alien and weird, not in the twisty Escher-esque sense that Antichamber had, but like you just don't belong in this place. Even though it isn't a horror game, there's a distinct feeling of tension and apprehension of the unknown, and the unsettling sound effects add to this. It's been a linear journey so far, but I don't mind that. It's a world I want to venture further into and discover more about. -- Two hours in: 2 hours into the game and it continues to impress. There have been a few challenging platforming sections interspersed between the traversal and light puzzle solving, but for the most part, it's all about the experience. Some might say it's boring, too much walking, but if there's one thing the game has excelled at since the start, it's making you feel small, insignificant within the massive alien spaces. That has been the highlight for me, just traveling through this mysterious complex. You exit from a narrow corridor into a gargantuan space that makes you tense just looking over the edge, and then you realize you have to find a way down. The game doesn't hold your hand, doesn't direct you where to go, besides the visual environmental cues. The game is certainly linear, don't expect a sprawling world, but you do have to find your way and it's easy to get disoriented, lost, turned around. The game has a fantastic atmosphere: mysterious, engaging, ominous, otherworldly.
As for negatives, there's one mechanic that at the moment feels more extraneous than integral to the overall experience. It complicates a simple action, and while it kind of feels almost Receiver-esque in the sense that you have to focus on an action that is usually automatic, I don't think it has really added anything to the gameplay yet. One platforming section was quite frustrating and I ended up just turning up the gamma to complete it. Also I found some checkpoints can be bit too spread out, but that's only been an issue two or three times. -- Three hours in: The developer said that the game's four to five hours long, but I'm thinking that's only if you know exactly where to go, how to go there, not die (repeatedly). I'm still on the second chapter. Probably should shave about twenty minutes of my overall play time, because I got stuck on a puzzle with a solution that was annoyingly obvious once I figured out what I was overlooking
My gripe about the checkpoints still stand. Some of them are just too spread out. You'll do some difficult platforming, get a safe area, start another difficult section, die, and then the checkpoint is back at the start of that first section. While you're just traveling and exploring, it's not an issue, but once you're dealing with sections where you can die because of a missed jump after making some progress, it can be frustrating.
But despite this issue (or at least I consider it an issue), the game has not lost any of its luster or mystery. I think the world in this game is by far one of the most alien and atmospheric I've experienced. It's not alien in the way that Avatar's world was, but alien in the unsettling sense that this is truly not a place made for or by humans.
New mechanics are introduced, mainly to offer interesting platforming and puzzle scenarios. It's great when you just have to stop and admire some cool sight, and NaissanceE has had moment after moment like that so far. The sound effects are as well great, really adding a sense of place and tone. --- Seven hours in: Yeah, 7 hours and I finally reached Breath Compression. I guess me, first person platforming, and keyboard/mouse controls don't mix well.
But I'm still absolutely loving this game. It does something very well, that I've usually only experienced in sprawling open world games and it's the feeling of seeing something interesting in the distance and then after 10, 15, 20 minutes of traveling, turning the corner and seeing that landmark before you. NaissanceE accomplishes that so well, enticing the player with weird and intriguing architecture and structures far away and then later, you exit a corridor and you're there.
It's a great feeling, that makes the game seem less like a linear adventure and more a journey where you're discovering the path. You never feel pushed or pulled in a direction, the game never takes control of your camera to direct you or tell you to head that way or in this direction. It's masterful in that aspect, subtly driving the player forward not through objective markers or compass arrows but with cues in the environment and the reward of exploration and discovery.
Now while the game is linear, it's certainly not tight corridors. Many areas have surprised me with how open they are, and all have been interesting to explore and just be in. Beside the exploration aspect, the gameplay seems to favor more platforming over puzzles, with a few light based puzzles and several challenging platforming areas.
I want to recommend this game. Aesthetically, it's perfect. A dark, forbidding, brutalist world to explore. I've lost count of the times I've just been stunned by the game's architecture, and stopped to look around.
Unfortunately, here are some other things I've lost count of: The amount of times I've died and thought 'Really? There hasn't been a checkpoint for THIS LONG?' The amount of times, a few seconds after I respawn or load in, the game has frozen for a second (this happens every time). The amount of times I've been able to see through walls while moving quickly - and come on, this shouldn't happen in a game with textures this simple, should it? The amount of times I've been killed because of how poorly the character movement controls and how short a drop can kill you in this game. The amount of times I've foolishly tried to use the Steam overlay, which crashes the game for me every single time.
Aside from actual glitches which I hope will be ironed out in an update, the gameplay itself simply doesn't help. The proportion of the game spent trying to complete absurd platforming challenges instead of being allowed to explore this fascinating environment is unbearable. As for the puzzles, they're essentially fine, but as previously mentioned, falling off a ledge halfway through them is pretty un-fun. And then there's the weird breathing mechanic, which frankly adds nothing to the game.
What ultimately stopped me from wanting to continue with the game at all was a section where the player is expected to walk along a lengthy pipe, parts of which are rotating, others of which move up and down - in what appears to be a wind tunnel. In the particular part of the pipe I was up to, you first have to walk along a series of moving, floating cubes to reach the next section. Then you have to run past some rotating obstacles. Then you have to run along another section with a series of cubes being thrown at you which instantly kill you if you are hit. Then you have to run along some beams that move up and down. Then you die, because a gust of wind has at some point during the aforementioned series of challenges, picked you up and blown you away. Why does this happen? Not sure. How is the player expected to know when the wind is going to become dangerous to them? Don't know. What is the player supposed to do to survive this? No idea. Sometimes the wind simply blows you into a wall, which doesn't hurt, but the wind seemingly never stops once it begins, so you're forced to re-load a save anyway.
If I'm missing something blindingly obvious here I apologise, but at the moment I have to treat this game as simply being broken.
I can't emphasise enough how much I love the way this game looks and sounds. It really makes you feel small, and the abstract electronic music complements that feeling perfectly. It's just a shame that a game so seemingly great should be so keen with its gameplay to stop me from playing it ever again. NaissanceE is a beautiful art game trapped inside an alpha-release standard puzzle-platformer.
UPDATE: So with this review climbing up the store page a bit, felt it was worth updating. I've played a bit more of the game since my initial review, having FINALLY managed to progress beyond that awful platform section. Apparently, the fan automatically blows you away after a certain amount of time, not just at random. I don't know how you're supposed to know this, but there it is. I made it through the area in time, EVENTUALLY.
Anyway, the couple of levels after that have actually been fairly simple and enjoyable (and, it goes without saying, aesthetically impressive). I got up to the desert section and haven't played more since, but at this point, the game is no longer throwing♥♥♥♥♥♥in my face constantly, so I feel like I will continue and finish the game when I have time. For this reason, and a couple of others, I'm changing my review to a cautious recommendation.
The other reasons are that 1: the developer has announced plans to fix bugs and include more checkpoints in the next patch, which would be a great improvement, and 2: the developer has made clear that the platforming sections were 'old-school' and difficult by choice, not accidentally. And if it's a design choice, I can't exactly treat the game as broken.
So it's a reserved recommendation - if you're a fan of atmospheric exploration games, pick this up but be aware that there'll be some real challenges (hopefully more reasonably checkpointed in future) to struggle through unless you're a master platformer. And if you're looking for a hardcore platformer, maybe pick this up but be aware there's a lot of wandering around lost in-between.
72 of 78 people (92%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 25, 2015
Do you remember the feeling you got when you saw the strange, grand architecture of Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back? Or the impossibly huge geometry of V'ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture? Or the cityscape in Blade Runner? Well, NaissanceE will bring back that feeling with incredible intensity.
No other game does grand environments like this, I promise you. It's mind-bogglingly huge and familiar and alien all at once, and when you start moving around it you realize that yes, you can get to that bright point on the horizon, it's not just scenery. It's a linear game but the city-type environments are surprisingly open, with optional paths to find here and there. The sound design does an amazing job of supporting the atmosphere, bouncing you between slack-jawed wonder and a creeping unease.
The catch is that's only about half the game.
The other half is split between claustrophobic halls and cubist nightmares. There are a lot of surreal, nonsensical rooms to run through that don't really mesh all that well with the cityscapes they break up. Chapters 5 and 6 (the game is broken into seamless Half-Life-style chapters) seem to double down on the weirdness, which was a little disappointing because of how much I enjoyed the city bits. The puzzles are also rather hit or miss, generally being rather easy and not very clever. I will say that there are some jumping puzzles in Chapter 4 that were pretty frustrating in how little sense they made, and an eye-searing puzzle in Chapter 5 that almost made me quit the game entirely.
The second-to-last chapter is pretty interesting and very wide open. It makes me think there's even more to find in the game, though there's no real payoff for exploration besides seeing what other weirdness the world contains. The last chapter is a little frustrating until you figure out what it wants you to do and the ending is pretty blah. I think there's something deep going on with the story but I haven't picked up on it. I just feel like there's something there. I honestly think the atmosphere is good enough to justify the purchase, but be aware there are more than a few flaws.
NaissanceE hits the ground running – or rather, its protagonist does. The opening moments serve as a compressed summary of all that the player is about to experience. Disoriented, panting, lungs pumping air like every moment could be their last. Rows and rows of identical hallways swoosh past. Are the walls really shrinking in on us or is it just a trick of the camera? A glimpse of the assailant giving chase causes the pace to quicken, accentuated by a sickening electronic noise trill. Before long, we come face to face with the creature just moments before falling into a pit that carries us to safety. Safety being relative. As the world we’re introduced to is anything but friendly and familiar.
In a way it’s the older brother of Kairo, one who transitioned from Eno to Lucier while attending college. Second cousin twice removed to Antichamber, losing almost all of its puzzle genes while retaining the mind-twisting level design. NaissanceE stands proudly next to other modern takes on the puzzle adventure. Progression, while linear, always fits within the massive scope of any particular area. You’ll get lost in the larger maps, poking around in the corners feebly in hopes of finding direction or a sign of life. What plot there is to be told is presented entirely through the environmental clues left behind by whoever came before you. There’s no dialog to be heard, no monologuing audio diaries or scraps of paper to pick up. The only text ever seen is the chapter titles and the main menu options. Everything remains a mystery.
Most of the time is spent simply navigating the large maps with occasional platforming segments to break things up. A breathing mechanic comes into play while sprinting for a short time. Every few seconds while sprinting, a circle will appear on screen. Hitting the right button (defaults to Mouse 1) while the circle is there will make your character take a breath and they will continue running a little longer. Fail to do so and they become winded and slow down drastically. Not something you want happening in the large maps or while jumping from cube to cube. On the note of platforming, I found some of the sequences to be irksome. Some involving awkwardly shaped landing areas and altered physics took me out of the moment if only briefly. I feel like the game could have been better off without those or with a little more care taken with them. You’ll also get to play with some cubes that are sensitive to light sources for a few puzzles, but none of them are particularly difficult.
NaissanceE expertly grasps the concepts behind what makes lonesome wandering compelling. The lights are on but nobody’s home. An expansive view of an area could show thousands of lit windows though you never get the sense that anyone is ever sitting behind them. A few poorly spaced checkpoints and unintuitive platforming segments annoy but don’t detract from the overall experience. As challenging of a play as it is a listen, your hand is never held in the labyrinth. The atmosphere is stifling, mysterious, beautiful. I felt compelled to explore as much as I could even if I knew there was a dead end ahead. In the 5 hours it took me to reach the incredible last moments I remained entranced.
Such a conflicting game and NOT one I can recommend sadly.
The atmosphere, mystery and exploration elements are FANTASTIC and it has some remarkably unsettling imagery and design but it's crippled by TERRIBLE gameplay decisions.
The checkpointing is AWFUL and made significantly worse by some of the worst 'first person platforming' elements this side of Xen, incorporating instant-death booby traps, fiddly jumps, narrow walkways and areas where progression is not sufficiently telegraphed resulting in some stupidly unneccessary deaths. By some accounts there may also be some bugs with the various "windy" locations that make the game nigh-on unplayable in places, but I personally never encountered any of those problems.
Special mention needs to go to the completely pointless side corridor that warns you "not to continue this way", and when you (of course) *DO* continue in that direction the game eventually just unceremoniously quits to desktop.
Ha. Ha. Funny. *sigh*
Also, unless I missed something (which is very possible) don't expect any sort of payoff or even an ending to the game. Upon reaching the end you just get dropped back to the main menu with nary an explanation of what just happened or why.
* * *
In the end, I personally have a particular love of exploring strange, alien places and abandoned locale's in games, so I still feel like I got my moneys worth out of it. The visuals and sound design feels like a modern interpretation of an ancient long-lost Lovecraftian cityscape.
BUT unless you can be equally forgiving of some incredibly bad "game" elements then I'd suggest you steer clear or wait for a sale.
Two wibbly wobbly cuboid snake monsters out of five.
49 of 53 people (92%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
4.5 hrs on record
Posted: April 20, 2015
Lasting about 3-5 hours, NaissanceE is a surreal exploration puzzle game that is appropriately atmospheric and moody, strange and surreal, sometimes puzzling and confusing, but most of the time something that feels like a trip into a strange, foreign, isolated world that runs by its own rules, rules that you have to figure out to progress and survive.
Only the most abstract of plots exists in the games; You start off the game running from some sort of shadow thing, and fall down to what can easily be compared to the rabbit hole. Your only given slight clues of a narrative, mostly coming from the chapters titles themselves, but the story is fairly simple... Lucy, our character, needs to go down deeper into this abyss and figure out what's down there. However, even without a strict narrative, the game manages to have a lot of personality and engagement. The loose narrative structure, surrealism, strange tripping moments, slight yet odd puzzle solving, and the strange world run by its own rules, remind me a lot of something like Yume Nikki or LSD: Dream Emulator, while it's a very different sort of game than either of those it in many instances can give off a similar otherworldly feel, and like those games, a strange inner-joy to try and explore and learn what you can about this strange, foreign, yet somewhat familiar place,
One super minor complaint is that I thought it'd be interesting if the game had developed more of its mechanics further, the game has the tendency to introduce an interesting concept and keep that concept to but a single section of the game, and never mixes and matches concepts like it could. However, the sheer number of ideas on display, how they're handled and presented, and how many of them strike the mark and work, more than make up for it, and also helps in the element of always guessing what may be coming next.
Besides that, the only complaint I have comes from a few moments. What you're supposed to do and where you're supposed to go is sometimes kind of obtuse, there's a few instances of trying to figure out what is the correct course of action to move forward that feels less puzzle solving and either trying to spot some obscure passage you missed or a guessing game with little hint, but again, minor in the grand scheme of things. There is one instance involving a wind tunnel and fans that I found to be a bit too trial and error, and sort of forced you to learn the breathing mechanic timing the character has while running to progress. There are some sequences the game turns more into a timed platformer, and these segments are notably weaker than the times the game moves at a slower pace, while I didn't find these segments bad, it is of note that they did strike less with me than most of the other sections of the game.
The game has several secrets to find, which were a joy to look for and uncover. Each of the chapters felt very different without breaking the flow of the game to what we learned before.
The flaws the game has are minor because the experience during its 3-5 hour run time is thoroughly gripping, strange, yet interesting, atmospheric, a sense of alone, sometimes dips into madness, and I'd even dare to say at times magical. It's a game that managed to capture a series of raw emotions of me whole playing with no dialogue or concrete story. It made me think deeply about things in the human psyche as I questioned my interpretations of things by mere suggestion, it can sometimes be mind-bending in the best possible way, and despite its short length, managed to be gripping from beginning to end. I'd say completely worth it for those who want to take a trip into a strange, interesting world.
68 of 91 people (75%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
6.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 27, 2015
I really wanted to like this, but if I’m entirely honest with you, I’m not all that impressed.
I love first person puzzle games, and I love the abstract and the surreal. From the reviews I read, it seemed like it had enough to fit that bill. But in honesty it felt lacking to me.
It’s labelled quite clearly an “exploration” game, which that within itself is probably where my fault lies. You do explore surreal and abstract settings, but bar a very few odd bits and puzzles here and there, that is about it. The label “walking simulator” has been a tad bit controversial but if I had to label this game anything, it’d be that.
As far as I am aware, there is no story. It clues you in at the start that you’re a little girl and you’re lost. But if I’m remembering correctly that is pretty much it in terms of anything being handed to you. You can make of it what you will, and at times I love that kind of thing, but I don’t think they built much of a foundation for you to go off of.
The world in itself is massive. Or at least, it feels that way. Which, props to them, that’s what you want in an exploration game! But here is the catch: the world is pretty minimal and barren. This probably doesn’t apply to the people with more than four brain cells to rub together to create an attention span, but for me I was in awe with my surroundings for 5-10 minutes or so before I got bored of the emptiness and wanted to move on to the next setting.
It almost feels as if you spend half of the game within tight corridors and small spaces and the other half in massive open spaces. The changing between the two is quite nice as it switches things up a little, but for me both still had that empty, minimal and barren feeling to it.
Traversing the very big and barren surroundings you found yourself in was made more difficult by the fact you have to control your characters breathing whilst running. Don’t get me wrong, I was and still am quite impressed by the originality of that feature and how they incorporated it into the more lively bits of the game. But taking 5 minutes to get up a staircase or being dumped into a massive desert and having to turtle your way around a massive world looking for what the hell to do next, wasn’t made any more fun with your character constantly needing you to click the mouse so she’d remember to breathe.
With all that said, I think the thing I was disappointed most about was the lack of puzzles. Again, it’s not labelled a puzzle game so I can’t moan too much. But I think some more puzzles in this game would have given it a lot more substance and made it a lot more enjoyable as well as bringing out its full potential as a game. “Kairo” for one being an example of that. It too is an abstract and surreal first person game with little direction or story. But in Kairo the puzzles are challenging and impressive enough to redeem the game. Or at least that was my opinion.
But alas! I feel like I’m moaning a lot here, so how about some positivity?
The graphics in this game are wonderful, it really is a beautiful game to look at and I was quite impressed with the art style. If this game has any redeeming qualities, the graphics are definitely it.
As I mentioned before, despite the breathing being a little tedious at times, it was impressive. Certain chapters of the game were very reliant on you being able to control your breathing to get by and the concept being used in that way was great. It bought out the games potential a little bit and made moments that were supposed to induce fear actually make you worry. I must have gotten through 90% of the game cool as a cucumber. Then the very last chapter had me genuinely scared and my heart going ten to the dozen. Which I can’t lie, I loved!
All in all this game is a nice experience, but I don’t feel like it has much to it. You can think of it what you will, but when I weigh up the pros and cons for myself, if I were to ask myself if it was worth sinking 6 hours into I’d have to reluctantly say no. None the less, feel free to experience it for yourself! This isn’t a resounding “NO”. It’s not like I feel obliged to warn you about the forthcoming horror that awaits before you if you buy this game. If anything this is a just-teetering-over-the-line-towards-a-no kind of no.
TL;DR : This game is a walking simulator if anything, with no apparent story, minimal and barren surroundings and not much in terms of puzzle or challenge. Redeeming features if any being the graphics, which are beautiful and a unique feature, which includes you needing to control your breathing, which could have been used to bring out the games full potential. That being said, it’s a nice experience but in my opinion not one worth £10 and 6 hours playtime.
27 of 27 people (100%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
5.7 hrs on record
Posted: June 25
NaissanceE is a 1st person puzzle + jumping platformer game with a little resemblance Antichamber and maybe even Minecraft. It has extremely minimalistic graphics style, a lot of running, some frustrating physics-based puzzles, no story and an overall feeling of madness.
The good: - the graphics are stylish. They show how you can make an interesting and even pretentiously looking game by only using geometric primitives (mostly boxes) and only gray color (very rarely with some slight variations of gray). The game has a unique and definitive graphics style - much of the visual greatness and even a few puzzles are built around the play of light. Overall there isn't much light in most levels, and the realistic light sources (white boxes) are scrace - vast levels, especially the city-like level where you go down. I wonder how even Unreal engine could render such a huge number of objects. Maybe the fact that they are just boxes and are all gray helped? Still, they seem to use realistic lighting - music is mostly good, sometimes even great, though I didn't like a few tracks (e.g. the last boss chase is annoying in its own, but the music makes it almost unbearable)
The so-so: - there just isn't much you can do in the game. I wonder if the "use" key is actually ever used. You mostly run around, sometimes press buttons by stepping on them or running at them, or touch a light sphere to make it show the way. Also you jump and sprint (with a breath system which could as well be left out because it doesn't add anything and ends ups up being just a useless chore). Still, the scarcity of actions doesn't spoil the game, it just makes the puzzles somewhat limited - the game lacks a sense of purpose or at least meaning. You solve a puzzle and don't get any reward or even a feeling of accomplishment - you just run forward to find another puzzle. There is a slight gratification in seeing vast new spaces for the first time, or simply moving on to the next area - but since no story connects the levels, the game feels arbitrary.
The bad: - the jumping physics is somewhat clunky: you sometimes can't jump up on boxes in front of you. This also makes the sludges puzzle unnecessarily difficult because your character's collisions and jumps inside the sludge are pretty random - there seems to be a bug that when running in a wind, you sometimes lose touch with the ground when pressing the sprint key, and you can't move any more. If you jump, you get instantly flown away and killed. This bug makes the level with tubes and ventilators extrememly frustrating, because you have to restart and retry sections many time until this bug doesn't happen and you can complete a section. - a lot of running, and in a few cases the correct way forward is hidden in a huge area - you may spend 15 minutes just running around, wondering what's needed from you, only to find out that a tiny stars is hidden behind a ramp somewhere. The game just artificially lengthens your playtime by making you run around a lot. I thought it took me 8-10 hours to beat the game but, judging from Steam stats, it's just 5 hours.
Overall, it's a good game, and during the first 2 levels I wanted to give it a 9/10, especially after seeing the masterpiece 2nd level. However, the bugs in physics and the frustrating puzzles based on it, and the super-annoying final level make me reduce the rating to 8/10. It's still a very good game though, so if you're into indie game, don't get scared by its dull screenshots and give it a try.
47 of 60 people (78%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
7.0 hrs on record
Posted: March 23, 2015
NaissanceE is a game that doesn't know what it wants to be -- as many have noted, it begins as an exploration game, with truly amazing use of light, sound, and architectural design to give the sense of an vast, chill, abandoned underground landscape. In the early parts of the game, you find yourself wanting to hide from nothing more than light and shadows moving about in an indescribably sinister way. In the midgame, there's an astonishing underground city, which brings to mind Blade Runner, Brazil, with a bit of 2001 thrown in.
And then it suddenly turns into a frustrating "hurry up before you die" platformer, where there's no exploration, and you have to struggle even to reach the next checkpoint. If you get past that section of the game, it wanders even further afield, losing all sense of the atmosphere and enjoyment with which it started. Which is REALLY, REALLY disappointing -- I very much wanted to play the endgame that the first half of this game was hinting at, a steady progression into Antichamber-like distortions of reality. But it lost sight of that goal, and lost me in the process. So as brilliant as the beginning is, I can't recommend this game because it just doesn't follow through on its initial promise.