Nihilumbra is a beautiful, haunting, if not altogether philosophically poignant, romp through a world fully realized through a masterful marriage of gameplay and presentation.
My biggest takeaway from Nihilumbra is that it's a solid iOS port of a puzzle-platformer that looks and sounds good and has a fun world manipulation mechanic. On the gameplay side of things, the only real issue with it is that its early sections are hampered by a lack of challenge and variety. Where Nihilumbra falls flat is with its relentless demand on hammering home every single plot beat while you're playing. What this all results in is a game that is pretty clever, but not half as clever as it seems to think it is.
Nihilumbra has finally released after a delay of almost one year due to technical issues with the Wii U port, and it was worth the wait. The game tells the story of Born, a blob that wants to escape from the void to the world, but there is a problem: the void wants you back. What makes the story more interesting is that a voice will be narrating the story, helping you to progress while including a few elements that make the story stronger.
Nihilumbra is the kind of game that clearly has grand ambitions, but it seldom has the chops to properly pull things off.
Nihilumbra does a perfect job at creating a nihilistic setting which will plunge the player in a gloomy, depressive spiral. Its visual and sound environments fit the game's plot without any flaws and the initial difficulty level allows the player to finish the plot-driven part of the game without problems. Things get more complicated once the player reaches the following segment, where the difficulty level hikes dramatically and the whole experience becomes much harder.
Review in Portuguese | Read full review
Nihilumbra is a fantastic example of what can happen when developers are willing to try new things, and focus on just what it is that makes videogames a unique medium. Life may have no intrinsic meaning, but the team at BeautiFun Games seem to have found meaning in making games, and for that, I am grateful.
With a story that will leave thought waves pulsating to the tune of the excellent writing, intriguing gameplay that breaches boundaries of immersion, and with a Wii U version coming soon that will be much more accessible for those with physical disabilities because the controller will replace a mouse, Nihilumbra is a demonstration of how video games that immerse the player in telling stories, gameplay that challenges the forefront of perception, and having puzzles that will be remembrances at lunch can never be beaten by mainstream titles – no matter how unique the fire particles get.
Nihilumbra is the kind of game that many will look over because they think they've played things like it hundreds of times before. It's not.
If you are looking to play Nihilumbra now is a better time than ever before.
The Wii U version of Nihilumbra isn't the game's first picnic on a console, but it never really got the publicity it deserved. If you've passed it up previously, don't sleep on this game now that it's on the Wii U, just have some kittens handy to provide a dose of happiness afterward.
All in all, Nihilumbra is a fun platformer, which allows for those who are new to puzzle games and those who are well versed in them to enjoy the game equally. With the creative and unique elements that are used in each puzzle, it is definitely a nice game for its price.
From the gorgeous settings, to the wonderful narrative development, and the smart implementation of sharp puzzle elements, Nihiliumbra is an absolute joy to play.
What should be the core appeal in Nihilumbra is less than three hours of extremely simple platforming, with an admittedly rather predictable storyline that tries too hard, presented through what might best be described as a fad in its invisible narrator. Some tough and frustrating platforming can be found if prepared to hammer through the initial easy-peasy main mode, but it never finds that middle ground of fun and balanced gameplay.
With its gorgeous visuals, moody story, and clever platforming gameplay, Nihilumbra is definitely trying its best to join the hallowed halls of indie greatness. However, I think it falls short, but not by much. Though they might seem contradictory, I would argue that the narrator needed a bit more gravitas while the story needed a little more subtlety to let the gamer decipher more of their own emotions. And while the gameplay is great, I really would have preferred a longer campaign that continued the brilliantly conceived difficulty curve and fewer post game levels that drastically up the difficulty. Of course, there are plenty of people who will probably adore the challenge, but I imagine that many will also be upset to find half of the game is overly frustrating. These problems, though, are actually quite small because the core package is so well executed and well worth just about any gamer's time.
Nihilumbra's main campaign takes about a couple of hours to complete but after finishing it, you unlock "Void Mode".
Overall, I was very pleased with Nihilumbra. Though it does run a bit on the short side, the replay value to be found in Void Mode certainly improves matters. The visual and audio side of things was competent, serving to fit the story and gameplay well, but weren’t exactly mind blowing. Luckily, the gameplay itself was enjoyable and constantly challenging, but without ever making me want to smash my head against a wall. I would recommend this to any fan of puzzle games who hasn’t played it yet, or to hardcore Nintendo enthusiasts. Born’s journey is one worth experiencing.
The more traditional dynamics related to platforms and puzzles take on a different perspective at Nihilumbra than what we are used to. A recommendable proposal that, in spite of the fact that the years weigh on the audiovisual section, will make us spend some very pleasant hours.
Review in Spanish | Read full review
Nihilumbra is such an exquisite game to look at, that it's disheartening to see such lovely artwork was wasted on an experience that only manages to dull the senses.