NaissanceE (PC) – Review

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NaissanceE is a beautiful abstract maze filled with interesting architecture, though at other times it can feel like a confused first person journey through Autodesk Maya… perhaps I should explain.

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NaissanceE is a game with no narrative, no clear objective, no hand holding… You start the game waking up in god knows where, and the entire game is pretty much you just walking through… god knows where. You journey through abstract structures and deserted city geometry just taking in the sights and continuing down the (often hidden) path to the next space.

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The lack of objectives and guidance in the game serves as both a strong asset, as well as its worst feature, at it’s best, the game turns into a puzzle of sorts, encouraging the player to find the right path and navigate through the abstract mazes the game presents, and at its worst you’ll become stuck for huge periods of time, only to find out you missed a corridor because everything is the same colour (this happened to me. I had to watch a lets play to find the corridor.).
Becoming stuck in NaissanceE appears to be something which increases in frequency over time, I found the first chapter of the game fairly straightforward and mostly enjoyable, but by the end of the second chapter I had become lost enough times to quit the game twice, resorted to watching a lets play twice, and somehow become stuck in an endless loop of staircases akin to mario 64 (except I couldn’t even descend out to normality anymore).

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NaissanceE also seems conflicted as to what genre of game it wants to be – combining platforming, art, light puzzles and exploration, but paired with a soundtrack and sound effects that vary from calming revelation music to that from a horror game. It’s not clear whether the game is intended to be scary in any way, but the developer’s use of music made me incredibly anxious through extended periods of the game, something which isn’t helped by the game’s monochrome colour scheme and broken gamma settings (the game defaults to ‘hilariously dark’, and putting the gamma up to the maximum results only in ‘dark but just about visible’).

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The game isn’t without its charms however, giant environments await the explorer and seemingly everything you can clearly see may turn into your next destination. The architecture of many of the structures is beautiful and interesting.  Dynamic lights are also handled very well in the few sections that properly use them, I wonder if NaissanceE was originally intended to be a light based puzzle game?

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Admittedly, the game was a little bit too boring and confusing for me to finish, the total lack of direction or way for myself to orient myself just left me stuck too many times and the game didn’t seem worth looking up a letsplay video every time I got lost.
I’ve heard this game get compared to Antichamber, but it isn’t as interesting or novel as that, perhaps it’s more like Dear Esther – but without the narrative and vibrance… hm…

Verdict:

NaissanceE is a mixed bag, and whilst not a bad game by any means, it’s distinct style of gameplay means it isn’t for everyone. I personally would find it very hard to recommend for the price of £13, however If literally getting lost in an expansive abstract world sounds appealing to you, then by all means give this one a shot.

Approximate Game Length :  2.5 – 5 Hours (depending on how lost you get)
Actual Worth / Steam Price:  £4 / £13 = 0.30
Should you play it : No, Despite spending a few hours on this game, I can’t say I enjoyed my stay, sure there are worse ways to spend your time and money, but then there are much better ones too.

Rating: 2/5

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