by Luke Summerhayes
Now this is a beautiful game. Look at the screenshots and you can see the gorgeous hand drawn backgrounds and characters but there’s a lot more to it than that. The animation, the music, even the narration creates an incredible atmosphere all the way from the first time you press start until the final credits roll, short though that may be.
Essentially, Nihilumbra is a puzzle-platformer. Played with the Wii U Gamepad’s analogue stick and buttons with the touch screen controlling special powers, each level introduces a new colour which can be painted onto the world for various effects. Never overtly taxing, a few puzzles are a little tricky and each world ends with a tense chase sequence, though never requiring pixel perfect platforming.
The game was originally an iOS exclusive, though I can’t imagine it playing well without a proper stick and buttons for the platforming. On Wii U, you can choose between playing the whole game on the Gamepad or a funky co-operative mode where one player moves the character with a remote and another player works the powers on the touch screen. In this mode, at least one player would be able to enjoy the splendid HD graphics on a nice big TV. In singleplayer, I constantly had to look at what I was doing on the touchscreen and couldn’t absorb the visuals.
This is a short game; easily played through in one evening. A secondary mode unlocks after completion, but even without it the experience is such a complete one, I didn’t feel any disappointment. If it were much longer, there might be a risk it would get boring or feel like it were reusing ideas. As it is, every moment feels like a new point on a meticulously plotted curve.
If you’ve not played this elsewhere, I strongly recommend giving it a go. Sit down in a nice comfy chair of an evening with a drink poured and the sound turned up and treat yourself to a touching little story.