Platform Reviewed: PC
Platform Available: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: SOEDESCO Publishing
Developer: Storm in a Teacup
Release Date: April 30, 2016
MSRP: $13.99 (Php. 499.95)
N.E.R.O., or Nothing Ever Remains Obscure, is one of those titles that starts off as a mysterious, bizzare, and question-filled game, filled with surprises and twists as you progress further into the game. The game is a really good combination of a first-person interactive novel, and a puzzler game, at that. It is developed by Storm in a Teacup and, to my surprise, caught me pretty off guard.
You are a Nero, a mysterious, shrouded figure that seems to have found his way to some sort of island, leading him to secrets hidden deep within the place. The beginning of the game fills your mind with questions like: “Who is Nero?”, or “What is this island?”, or “What is really the story behind all mysteriousness of the game?”. Luckily, the game didn’t fail to answer those questions. Well, most of them, anyway.
The gameplay of the game is pretty straightforward. You control Nero via WASD keys for movemement, right mouse button for charging your power (you’ll get one shortly after starting the game), and left mouse button to release it. Also, when interacting through various objects in the game, you simply press the left mouse button, too. The game’s story is actually really nice (and heart-breaking, at that), and the game was also able to combine it with different puzzles (though sometimes they get sort of repetitive-ish due to mainly relying on your ‘ball’ power), which, in my opinion, keeps you up and running, and most likely interested throughout the game. Speaking of the game’s story, there are also a lot of floating sentences that you can find around the place that links its content to the game’s story. Solving puzzles also gives you more insight to the story, apart from progressing further after having solved each and every one of it. The gameplay’s pretty basic, but combined with the story’s narrative, it actually boosted the game’s quality. The game somehow reminds me of Slender: The Arrival, but with a much nicer atmosphere. The story is different, though, giving N.E.R.O. an upper hand. The fps in this game also sort of lags at times, like when you throw your orb, the fps of the orb doesn’t really match with its speed.
Now, the environment of the game is beautiful. I know that the game is filled with dark places (and also scary ones, like the hospital area where it gave me the Outlast vibe), but come on, the mixture of dark places plus bioluminescent plants and animals really stands out in this game. I don’t have a thing for bright colors, or neon lights, or even the bioluminescent types that is shown in this game, but it surely was able to prove that bright lights can be beautiful to watch, too (and not just harm the eyes, or turn you blind…). The beautiful combination of brightly-glowing large caterpillars eating on rocks, trees, pillars or any other terrain adds an oddly satisfying beauty to the game. The giant caterpillars aren’t the only ones glowing in this game (they were prominent in this game, so I had to give credits to them for lighting a path for me), there are also several others you can see such as the tiny, to really large, floating jellyfishes (yes, floating, in air), to the plants the fungi, the trees, the birds, and a whole lot of oddities as you further progress throughout the game. The lighting in this game is weirdly fulfilling’s, although at some points you’ll notice rough edges along the way. It doesn’t really ruin the whole game, though.
Albeit the gameplay and environment indifferences the game had, N.E.R.O. did not fail to actually deliver its main concept throughout its story.
The story-telling in this game is actually really beautiful, and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart (it’ll also always remind me that a great story doesn’t always really have to have a happy ending. Rather, a great story is when everything said would make sense, and that everything in it would teach you a lesson after the story’s been done). Although some may have a lot more questions as to what happened to this part, of if that part really ended that way, it seems to me that the game has proven its point, and that it succeeded in delivering on what it intended to deliver.
This review is based on a review copy provided by the developers/publisher.