500 shades of grey
NaissanceE is the first game by Limasse Five, though you wouldn’t believe it. The level of freedom we felt while exploring its world is greater than most AAA sanbox games – and this is a linear story!
At the start of the game you are greeted with a short cut scene in which you are running through the endless identical hallways of an eerie installation. A strange light aoon appears, and you fall down a hole to be told by some expository text “Lucy is lost”. Then you’re free to go as you wish. We immediately took off towards one of many random holes and after about ten minutes of jumping puzzles and stairwells, realised we had been making progress. So, being the anarchists we are, we leapt down a few holes that looked as if they were off the beaten path and were rewarded with another massive area to explore. Its not just Lucy that is lost.
As we progressed through the mysterious, labyrinthian installation, the lonely atmosphere led to contemplation. This is where NaissanceE really comes into its element, as it hides hundreds of tiny clues in every aspect of its design. The way the lights react, the human elements of the world and the strange noises. The developers have meticulously crafted their world and it seems that every question can be answered just be walking.
The game has more than just exploration to offer, you are expected to solve complex jumping puzzles, light manipulation puzzles and block moving puzzles. The largest problem with these brain teasers are how far apart the checkpoints are, meaning you may have to repeat two or three minutes of game play if you mess up. Strangely, with some of these puzzles the joy is not overcoming the challenge but simply seeing the world react. As blocks fly effortlessly at your touch or grind to shut you in, NaissanceE keeps you constantly feeling as if you are an important part of this world.
As you explore you will be accompanied by the ambient sounds of the world; the gentle hum of distant machinery or the whirring of fan blades. They act as a solitary reminder that you are still trapped within four walls.. You will also have NaissanceE’s soundtrack which changes from light ambient pieces, to eclectic improvised jazz and even a disquieting accordion to define your journey. These scores can often change the atmosphere of an area with just one slightly off key note.
The game has some issues, however. A few puzzles serve only to frustrate through difficulty or their obtuse nature. One such puzzle required waiting at a door until a light shone through, thus opening it. It took us twenty minutes to realise this. Other areas have similar problems; as NaissanceE‘s environment is huge, many rooms are copy and pasted which means it is quite easy to go round in circles without realising. Checkpoints can exacerbate this issue due to the huge frame-rate drops that accompany them, meaning you could have accidentally turned 180° without knowing it. We also experienced crashes when using the Steam overlay.
NaissanceE has one of the most interesting environments we’ve played in, in a long time. It offers an experience that is hard to compare to other games. With a creepy atmosphere and soundtrack, it is a great game to simply get lost in – and was designed with that in mind. If you enjoy exploration and the uncertainty that accompanies not knowing where the hell you are, this is the game for you.
NaissanceE is now available on Steam.