Nihilumbra Review

2015-02-03-105030

Title: Nihilumbra
Developer: Beautifun Games
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 347 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: No

It is not uncommon to have Mobile games make their way over to the console world.  This is even more apparent with the PlayStation Vita.  Ever since the age of PSP Minis back in last generation, Mobile developers have been looking more and more into the handheld console market to bring their games to new audiences.  There are many Mobile games on the Vita, from Angry Birds Star Wars to Pocket RPG.  The list grows nearly every few weeks, in fact.

With all of these games coming over, the PS Vita community gets an experience that is enhanced from the original game.  Mobile doesn’t have physical button controls, nor does it have a trophy system like the PlayStation Network has.  While some ports of Mobile games has more to it than this, it is at the least, the two enhancements you can expect when a Mobile game crosses over into the handheld world.

Today, I have a review on somewhat of a unique Mobile game that is crossing over into the Vita as well as other consoles.  Having originally released on Mobile, I am happy to bring you coverage of a puzzle platformer that has done well on Mobile, Steam, and more.  Having just released on the Vita recently and coming to more consoles later this year, here is my official review of Nihilumbra!

Story

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The plot of Nihilumbra takes place around a creature known as Born.  Born was born in an endless realm of death known as the Void.  Having been born with nothing, Born ventures and wishes to escape from the Void, to explore the world and make a life for themselves.  From the moment they escape from the Void, however, it gives chase, longing to claim them back into the endless void, Born being a part of it that cannot be without it.  As the void gives chase, it spawns and creates monsters to help it capture Born.

The story of the game takes you all across the world as you are running from the void, gaining colors and life to help you in your journey.  It’s a tale told by a narrator as you journey, depicting your growth as you gain different colors and elements, all with the void chasing close behind and destroying everything in its path.  The story is also shown in two segments, where you go through your initial journey and then go through the world again for a second journey.

The plot of the game is more involved than most games.  The narrator explains the journey in nearly every part of a stage that you go through.  Unlike some Mobile games, the story is almost constantly-advancing with dialogue from the narrator in the first journey, but less so in the second journey.  It proves to be an interesting story.  Not something incredibly deep, but enough for you to feel for the main character and the world around them.

Gameplay

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Nihilumbra is a puzzle platformer game that is displayed in a side-scrolling manner.  As you play through the game, you will be progressing through stages and areas that will showcase puzzles you need to solve to reach the next area using elements that you can find and use on the environments themselves, from ice to fire to electricity.

The game has two game modes that you can play through for the story: Story Mode and Void Mode.  The Story Moe has you traveling through the world in your first journey and Void Mode is the second half of the story, where everything is much harder to play through.  Essentially Void Mode is Hard Mode, even though its plot is different than that of the first mode and all of the puzzles and enemy placement is different.

The idea of the game is to get from one area to the next by means of puzzles and elements.  You travel through many different types of environments, from a snowy mountain to a fiery volcano to a lightning-filled city.  Each environment has a unique color that you obtain, which acts as a specific type of element and allows you to get through the puzzles of that area.  This could be by the means of using ice to gain momentum to jump large gaps or fire to defeat enemies in your path.

Each stage is a puzzle, but not in the means of unlocking a gate but in the idea of reaching the next stage.  The path to you is open, but you have to figure out how to reach it.  There could be a ledge at the end that’s too high for you to jump to, so you need to “paint” a way over to it, be it ice on a ledge to do a jump or mud along walls to stick to and jump across to get to the ledge.  As you play further in the game, the puzzles get more complex and may require 2 or more elements to solve.

As such, there is a good amount of thinking to be done as you play the game.  The first trip through the world shouldn’t be too bad.  Once you get a feel for how the puzzles work, there should only be a few that you will need to stop and figure out how to do.  Some of the more difficult ones are dependent on your position to make work.  The second half, however, is very hard from the get-go.  Void Mode will test your brain from the very first stage and you’ll need to be on your feet from the very beginning.

The nice part about the game is the inclusion of checkpoints.  If you go through a stage and fail by falling down a pit or get killed by an enemy, you will return to the last checkpoint you were at.   You have an unlimited number of lives, so you may re-try the stages as many times as you would like.  This is very useful especially in Void Mode and the “Boss” fights in the game where you’re racing against the clock to go through platforms as the Void quickly eats up the screen, coming after you.

All in all, Nihilumbra isn’t a very long game.  The initial Story Mode should only take you a few hours to clear, and Void Mode will probably take about twice that, depending on how quickly you can figure out the puzzles.  There is also Challenges from the main menu, but that is just an in-game listing of the game’s trophies.  The game isn’t a very long game, but should keep you entertained for at least 5-6 hours.

Controls

Controlling Nihilumbra is fairly easy to do.  First of all, the game has touch controls that are required for the game.  There are a lot of button controls, but controlling the elements is always done with the front touch screen.  When you paint color/elements onto free ground, you will be tapping a color from your “tree” and sliding your finger on the screen to place it within the environment.

The rest of the game is handled with the buttons of the system.  Moving Born through the levels is done with the D-Pad and Left Analog Stick.  The Right Analog Stick, however, has no function in this game.  As far as the face buttons are concerned, they are mostly used for jumping.  The X and Circle buttons can both be used for jumping, and the Triangle button is used for pulling up your Color Tree, though selecting a color is still handled by the touch screen.

Lastly, the L and R buttons are used to cycle through your currently-equipped colors.  All in all, the control scheme is pretty easy to get a handle on.  The game doesn’t do a lot of explaining for these controls, so it’s more of a matter of figuring out some of the button controls on your own.

Presentation

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The presentation of the game has some ups and downs.  The actual design and visuals look good.  The colorful nature of the game has translated over to the PS Vita very well.  All of the visuals look crisp and clear.  No jagged edges to be found anywhere.

The biggest problems are the load times and the way it plays.  The Load Times for each major section of the game are very long.  You’ll end up waiting at least 15 seconds each time a new area loads.  The stages, themselves, load well, but when you go to a new environment, it will be a long wait.  The frame-rate is also something to mention.  Every so often, you will find areas where the frames will begin to slow down.  It only happened a few times when I played the game, but it did happen a few times and was a bit of an annoyance.

Summary

Nihilumbra is: Good
Nihulumbra’s journey to the PlayStation Vita has brought its colorful charm to a new audience.  On the downside, the game has long load times and the frames don’t stay steady.  Otherwise, Nihilumbra proves to be a fun puzzle game that will challenge your mind from start to finish. 

8/10

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