GAME NAME: Nihilumbra
DEVELOPER(S): Beautifun Games
PUBLISHER(S): Beautifun Games
PLATFORM(S): Wii U
RELEASE DATE(S): May 14th, 2015
Spanish game developers Beautifun Games have definitely done some interesting and unique things with their indie title Nihilumbra. In this wonderfully designed otherworldly puzzle platformer that is clearly inspired at least in part by the 1984 fantasy film The Never-Ending Story, you play as Born, a being of the void and are discovering the world as you try to escape that which you are from – the void. In the process you are trying to avoid and enemies, some which are rather interestingly named such as Crawlaggars and Shyphoniths which as the narrator frequently points out are very deadly.
As you proceed onward with your journey, you will collect and “learn” colours, each with it’s own distinct advantages. This is partly where it gets interesting. Each colour has a specific ability attached to it, elemental properties if you would that can and will help you on your journey. For example, the colour blue allows you to “paint” what is seemingly a layer of ice on the ground that will allow you (or even your enemies) to move a bit faster, or to easily move objects such as giant crates that would be otherwise unmovable.
This is also where the uniqueness of Nihilumbra really shines through via what is in my opinion exceptional use of the Wii U gamepad. The controls are a very well balanced mix of conventional D-pad/stick and button control as you would expect from a traditional platformer, but at the same time uses the gamepad’s touch screen very intuitively. You use the D-pad and A/B buttons to move and jump respectively, just as you would in many other platforming type games. In addition, almost any action with the exception of actually using your colour abilities not only can be accomplished via the touch screen, but also has a physical button assigned to it. This definitely very welcome as some levels I noticed that it was rather inconvenient to try and swap colours while trying to simultaneously run and jump. I also in all honesty, found it worlds easier to play the game strictly on the gamepad due to the use of it for more that just a display device. Although a bit on the short side (five levels), once you complete the story mode you unlock “void mode” which basically strips away the story aspect of the game leaving behind nothing but the nitty gritty of the puzzle goodness but in a more difficult fashion which definitely adds to the replay value of this fantastic little game.
In addition to the gameplay and wonderful use of the gamepad, Nihilumbra also shines in several other areas. First is the exquisite, absolutely beautiful unearthly artwork. It has a certain quality about it that makes the world of Nihilumbra seem so familiar, yet so very alien at the same time. From frozen wastelands to deserted and decrepit cities seemingly devoid of any form life, known, unknown, familiar or not the art style brings a very unique visual texture to the game with it’s highly detailed mix of darkness and colour. Combined with a simply amazing musical score that definitely presents you with a feeling of odd beauty mixed with a sense of dire urgency as you are trying to escape the void on this strange yet wonderful journey of self discovery, Nihilumbra is a very unique, philosophical gem that absolutely deserves to be
For $7.99 on the Wii U eShop, Nihilumbra is definitely worth the purchase if you’ve not played this gem before. With an extremely mood setting sountrack and narrative, beautiful artwork, and very meaningful and philosophical story line, there really is no good reason to skip this one. This is one of those games that is an absolute must play.