N.E.R.O. or Nothing Ever Remains Obscure, is a new first person puzzle based game currently available on steam and the Xbox store. I purchased a copy for my Xbox One and a good friend of mine got her copy through her Steam account. We spent the tail end of the weekend sitting together and playing the game on our respective platforms (with the use of headsets of course). At the end of the game we compared our experiences. Here are our thoughts on Nothing Ever Remains Obscure.
The World of N.E.R.O.
Experience the fantastical world of N.E.R.O. through the eyes of a child. This is a classic coming of age story about a boy named David and his journey from the innocence of childhood to the full awareness and understanding of adulthood. Young David is the key to unlocking a number of puzzles hidden throughout a visually stunning world. Each puzzle unlocks a piece of the story of David’s family history, and gains a deeper understanding of the past and the world around him. David is not alone on his journey through the game. His companion will follow behind the player at all times adding narration, and assisting with solving puzzles.
N.E.R.O. functions as a visual interactive novel, and I found myself becoming more and more invested as I progressed the plot. The story takes some interesting twists and turns which tugged at my heart strings. This game tackled some heavy topics, which I certainly not expecting. It is an emotional roller coaster from the beginning to the end.
N.E.R.O. is focuses heavily on story and the experience of the player over gameplay. Emphasis is placed the on the spectacle of the environments, which doesn’t fail to impress. Accompanied with the score, the world of N.E.R.O. is a sight you have to see to believe. The quality of the game design and the music is easily comparable to many AAA titles. The game features four main areas to explore the caves, forest, the hospital and the desert. Each location has a set of unique plant and wildlife which glow to light your way on your adventure.
As for playing the game itself, the puzzles are entertaining, but not especially taxing. With the exception of the final challenge I never felt any of them were particularly challenging. I managed to solve a couple of them in just a few clicks. The average player will be able to breeze through each step of the story to unlock the pieces of the story. The simplicity of the gameplay will make this game accessible to players of all skill level, and I imagine a younger audience would find high level of enjoyment in this game. In addition to the puzzles, there is a collectable element to the game. By exploring off the beaten path David can stumble across pieces of an old photograph which come together to form a picture.
I have very few complains after completing N.E.R.O. After playing through the game on my Xbox One, my friend let me play through a portion of her PC copy. On the PC version I encountered a bit of a hiccup where the buttons in the game’s startup screen did not work properly. For both versions I found the controls were buggy at times when I crossed bridges, and the frame rate for both would sometimes drop drastically during transitional cut scenes. The use of the “orb” can also be frustrating at times as its curved trajectory makes it difficult to aim.
This might not be classified with as a “bug” but the story tended to be fragmented and hard to follow at times. We got the distinct impression that it was a problem with the translation of the game. N.E.R.O. could have benefitted from having a third party editor do a quick review of the script if only just to make the narrative flow better.
Over all, I enjoyed the experience of playing N.E.R.O. but many people will have an issue with the repetitiveness of the puzzles. As stated before, the puzzles are also a low level of difficulty, so the majority of players will breeze through a majority of the game. I would have liked to see a little more effort in making the function of the puzzles relate more to the narrative. The allure of N.E.R.O. is mainly in the novelty of the art design, the music and the narrative.
I personally enjoyed playing through the story, but I definitely see N.E.R.O. being a game people will either love or hate with very little grey area in-between. I know my friend who purchased the PC version of the game said it was not their cup of tea. Her main complaint was that the story was difficult to follow at times, and the payoff was lackluster. For gamers who enjoy an artistic approach to gaming with a focus on narrative it is at least worth a look.
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