When asked to review Nimbus from Noumenon Games on Steam, my first question was a simple one, “what’s it about?”
“Ah. It is a puzzle game of sorts where you have to get to the exit of each level in your spaceship”
“Cool, that sounds simple enough. Flying a spaceship to the exit.”
“No, you don’t fly. You fall”
“Yep. You have no propulsion, you just fall”
“Ok. So you fall to the exit which is beneath you?”
“Nope, sometimes the exit is to the left or right, or even above you. You have to bounce off springy blocks, use cannons, or even just use your own momentum to gain height, kinda like a glider”
“I am confused”
“Just shut up and play the game”
Successfully navigating a level in Nimbus requires two things: Quick thinking and precision. The game in itself is fairly simple, there are not loads of difficult controls to learn. Just turning your pod left or right and occasionally employing the brake to slow your decent. What does take a bit of getting used to is the whole concept that you have no propulsion. If you need to gain height, you have to pick up speed in your fall and then swoop the pod back in an upward direction. Of course, there are objects spread around the levels that can help with that upward momentum. But the laws of physics rule in this game and what goes up, must come down.
Each of the levels, due to the falling and momentum nature of the game, must be completed almost in one movement. There is no stopping and thinking about which action to take next. You have to know exactly where to go and how to position your pod in an instant, which is difficult when first playing a level and you don’t even know where the exit is. Some of the levels are really quick and will be over in a matter of seconds, whereas other levels will drag on for ages, begging the player to make one stupid mistake and run out of momentum. Luckily, there are large cannons that act as checkpoints from which the player can begin again should they end up stranded.
As the player progresses, different elements are added to the mix to really test the player. Spiky walls, blocks that zip the player along in a certain direction, even projectiles that want nothing more than to destroy your little pod. The difficulty certainly ramps up quickly and it will present a challenge just reaching the exit.
But reaching the exit is not necessarily all that is involved here. Sure you can complete the game just by simply getting to the end, but those with a competitive nature will find reason to keep trying. First up is the fact that a global leaderboard is displayed which shows how quickly other gamers have completed the given level, teasing the player to just try and do it a little quicker. Then there are the coins. Each level has coins hidden within it, usually in the most hard to reach places. Trying to collect all of the coins within the game will be an exercise in patience and will keep completists happy for hours.
The visuals within the game are bright and colourful, with a distinct retro feel. Whilst there is nothing groundbreaking here, anything too fancy would take the attention away from the gameplay, which is what is important. Similarly, the soundwork is simple and doesn’t get in the way.
Nimbus has that quick-hit gameplay that can be found on some of the most successful iPhone games, allowing the player to pick it up and knock out a few levels in a matter of minutes. However, most players will find themselves compelled to play for extended periods, just trying to get through one more level, before heading off to do something else. The game has a lovely feel about it and will appeal to casual gamers looking for a bit of a challenge.