Nebulous is a physics-based puzzle game much in the vein of the old “Contraption” PC game I used to play when I was a child. In that regard, the nostalgic sensibility of that generation of puzzle games felt nice, paired with a new space theme and boosted VR experience. My primary interest in the title was the VR mode, which certainly adds a dynamic that helps you understand the sense of the puzzles a bit more. Do note, however, that you do not need VR to play this title, and the VR mode doesn’t add anything to the gameplay per se, but merely makes the process of solving puzzles in a 3D space a little easier.
The goal of Nebulous is simple, even though the solutions can be complex. Move around objects, lasers, portals and more to guide an astronaut inside of a bubble (sort of like one of those hamster-in-a-ball situations), to the final goal. You’ll want to guide the hero, Dash Johnson, using these objects while avoiding dangerous traps and hazards The gameplay is simple, but as you move through the various worlds and new puzzle conventions are introduced, it will take some keen insight to solve some of these levels.
The thing I enjoyed most about Nebulous is likely it’s most unique feature – three-dimensional puzzle solving. The first few levels will have you bouncing your astronaut friend down some tube like structures, hitting him perfectly to the end level portal, but soon, the area in front of you will soon allow you to pivot the screen as you will warp to different panels in the game. This aspect is unique in puzzle solving because it will use a portion of your brain that requires you to complete patterns and obstacles that are not merely in front of you, relying on memory as well as your spatial intelligence.
In this regard, VR can be an asset, as you can merely look around the area to see how each panel connects to the next rather than having to turn the screen completely. The feature to move around objects using your head can be slightly clunky, which is reflective of how some of the game mechanics function, in general. It’s hard to decide whether or not the accessibility to the puzzle board is worth the accuracy you need to place objects.
Even if you do not find yourself to be a super puzzle aficionado, Nebulous can still offer some fun (assuming you are a fan of the genre), as a lot of the game can be completed using trial and error with the placement of blocks and other objects. With that said, if you are looking to earn trophies, you’ll want to master the placements of these objects and may require a second play (or third). Later sections of the game can become difficult (variable depending on personal spatial reasoning and puzzle solving skills), adding new conventions that may take longer to figure out.
As a fan of puzzle games (and games that challenge my brain in general), I enjoyed the concept of Nebulous, but there were times it felt very clunky. Although it is to be expected with this sort of puzzle game, object placement often times became frustrating on hitting the absolute perfect spot, which relied more on retrying and retrying versus understanding what will happen (if, then). This sort of rewind and replay got old, fast, and ultimately left my more frustrated than happy with my experience. That is not to say that the experience was completely ruined, I just did not find myself excited to continue to the next missions. Maybe it’s the nature of the beat of this sort of game, but sometimes the physics felt just slightly off (or potentially too, “ragdoll” feeling). Nebulous is worth a try, but try to catch it during a sale.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
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