Review | Nimbus
Format: PC| Genre: Puzzle Racer | Publisher: Noumenon Games | Developer: Noumenon Games | Price: £5.99
Sky rockets in flight, Leena Van Deventer grabs some afternoon delight with NIMBUS.
NOUMENON GAMES had a brilliant idea. “Let’s mix a puzzle game with a RACING game!” they said, “HOLY SHEET!” I said. So they got a few games in the pen together and waited around until the female presented her rump, then BAM! Magic was made. Nimbus exquisitely blends racing elements and puzzle elements to create a unique adventure, one I’ve never seen the likes of before. As if that didn’t have me on Cloud 9 (HAH!), there’s an extra more-ish layer of complexity – your ship has no means of directly propelling itself forward. You need to rely on the environment around you to acquire thrust.
The first level is purely for storytelling, where you witness an alien robotic eyeball stealing away the lovely looking pink ship next to you. As you watch your ship’s bow slowly dip with sadness, it becomes poignantly apparent that the giant eyeball just stole the love of your life. That jerk. As the journey begins to find her, the levels start out at almost a tutorial level, warming you up to the controls and giving you a chance to replay the first few levels to get really comfortable. This is important because the controls are a little fiddly, at times the arrow keys (or WASD, whatever you prefer) are flipped, making the split second decisions the hardest parts to get used to as you instinctively hit right to go right. Things aren’t that simple in Nimbus! While it may be easy to pick up, it’s hard to truly master.
You mixed who with the what now?
Nimbus’s art style in the first few levels struck me as reminiscent of Sonic’s Green Hill Zone, the little squares in the solid rock, that lively bright green grass, the curves, it all tastes like juicy nostalgia. Colours are vivid yet easy on the eyes, making for interesting viewing as more mechanics are introduced. You search for thrust via tiny canons, yellow bouncy pads, and different tiles that offer a boost, some in set directions, all of varying power. Your aim is to get from the start to the black and white checkered blocks at the end of each level – to do this you need to manipulate the items around you to gain enough momentum to get there, along the way collecting keys to unlock certain inaccessible areas. Obstructions which get in the way of you clearing the level include spikes, lasers, crushing blocks, high heights and the most pitiful of all, losing all forward motion and being stranded. Staying still equals death. Learning to manipulate gravity, teleporters, travellators, giant balls, and numerous other devices all test your dexterity skills as well as your puzzle solving abilities. Some levels require very exact pathways, one bump against a wall and you need to start over, yet it never feels unfair. If you screw up it’s your own damn fault.
The sound is bouncy enough to keep you feeling relaxed and light hearted which is important when you start getting into the harder levels and the temptation to ragequit is strong. There is enough of it to be interesting, but never intrusive, and it can be turned off if you wish. If you find the difficulty getting too frustrating there are 3 difficulty levels to choose from, each having their own unique attributes to up the ante. There are a lot of Steam achievements available which further adds to the replay value – the racing element really comes in with the series of time trial achievements, which offers something to go back to once you’ve had your first playthrough.
Nimbus offers something for almost everyone, if you love racing against the clock you can try and beat the best times in the leaderboards or test yourself against the time trial achievements. If you love puzzlers you will revel in the key system and love unlocking zones by triggering switches and working out how to get inanimate objects to do your bidding for you. If you love both of these elements and love when skill and subtlety are rewarded you’re going to have a massively good time in the world of Nimbus. For £5.99 it has room for many replays, each with a different focus if you feel the need for a change. Nimbus is a relaxing, stimulating, refreshing place to visit, and a great way to sink a few hours into something original rather than the same old shovelware we see so much of these days. I look forward to finishing on all 3 difficulties and further achievement whoring. The sky’s the limit with Nimbus!…. Yeah I’ll show myself out.