Have you ever wanted to solve puzzles using the power of colours while fleeing from an all consuming black and purple swirling mess? Well good news now you can thanks to Nihilumbra.
I’ve got the game, I’ve been playing it, so what do I think?
You play as Born, a cute little sentient piece of The Void, in this indie adventure, platformer, puzzle game. No longer happy of being part of The Void, because it is the all consuming external nothingness and thus has no TV, Born escapes to the real world where, not unsurprisingly, he is pursued by The Void who wants him back.
Born’s quest to flee The Void takes him across five different lands, including a snowy mountain, a red-hot volcano, and an abandoned city, all of which have a beautiful hand drawn aesthetic, full colour and very vibrant contrasting perfectly with The Void.
To make it through each level requires the use of colours to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and defeat enemies spewed forth from The Void to slow your progress. With a swipe of the mouse you can paint the world blue creating a sheet of ice making the ground slippery allowing you to travel faster and jump further or red to heat things up and burn away your enemies.
Each new region you travel to grants you access to a new colour, the snowy mountains grants access to the icy blue for instance, which you gain in the form of a flower. Once you have gained access to a colour you get to keep it for the rest of the game which allows for more complex puzzles that require the use of multiple colours to overcome.
The levels are laid out nicely to ease you into each new colour you unlock, teaching you how to use, how to combine it with the other colours at your disposal etc.
Every time you gain access to a new colour and new power the game throws up a new enemy of some kind to counter it to stop Born becoming too overpowered and keep a balance going.
So far so good, Nihilumbra is a nice little puzzle game with an interesting story, good puzzles (which is always important in a puzzle game), and a great game mechanic in the form of its magic colours made better by the fact that you are unlocking new colours right up until the end of the game.
Now the bad.
The narrator who talks and describes Born’s little adventure as he learns about the real world and emotions blah blah blah. Some of the lines are a bit tiresome like “You are nothing” but I wouldn’t say they are too bad, they don’t feel out-of-place, and they do get better as the game goes on. No my problem with the narrator is he is too damn slow. Quite often I was completing the area before he finished talking leaving me in the awkward position of trying to decide whether I stand around and let him finish or just cut him off and move on to the next area. Luckily it’s on the screen what the narrator is saying so you can just skip ahead but it would have been nicer if he was a bit quicker.
The puzzles, while fun, aren’t that challenging. None of them left me scratching my head trying to work out how to solve them. The biggest problem I had with the puzzles was switching to the colour I needed and painting the ground/wall in time not the actual itself. You can either use the mouse wheel and scroll through the colours, and end up scrolling past the colour you need because you forget the order they are in like I did on multiple occasions, or click on the little icon in the corner and bring up a selection, this however does not pause the game and leaves you vulnerable.
It’s short, very short in fact. There are five regions, each broken into seven sections plus what could be described as a boss level in the form of a chase with The Void, which is where the issue of not being able to select the necessary colour quickly is at its worst. I completed the main story in around two hours. A very fun and enjoyable two hours, but only two hours nonetheless.
Once you complete the main story you do unlock Void Mode which fixes some of these issues. It makes the game longer for a start and brings with it fresh puzzles, impossibly difficult puzzles. Puzzles that will make you want to break down and cry. While the main story feels somewhat like a tutorial never really challenging you, Void Mode is like some kind of nightmare devised to get you to rip your hair out. It’s a remix of all the levels from story mode but you begin with all the colours, having to use them in combination to solve the puzzles. There’s no normal difficulty, the game goes straight from piss easy to impossibly hard without anything in between, it never gives you a chance to properly build yourself up for the truly hard puzzles.
I really enjoyed my time playing Nihilumbra however it’s not something I’d play through again. I’ve solved the puzzles once and that’s enough for me.
If you like puzzle platformers with an interesting story and game mechanic you’ll most likely enjoy Nihilumbra it’s just really short and comes down to a simple money to fun ratio. Are you happy paying £4.99 (the price it is on Steam right now) for a two-hour story mode? Of course you can always wait and pick it up in one of the many Steam sales.
Genre: Adventure, Casual, Indie
Developer: BeautiFun Games
Publisher: BeautiFun Games