NaissanceE
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

NaissanceE is not a game for players that want to know exactly what is going on at all times. Instead of offering any explanations the game simply drops you into a surreal and intimidating gameworld that thrives on your confusion. The result is an experience quite unlike anything else and one that will stay with you long after the journey is complete.

Gameplay: First person exploration with a dash of puzzle solving and platforming.

Graphics: Beautiful and imposing in equal measures.

Sound: Atmospheric audio that greatly enhances the whole experience

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NaissanceE

Developer: Limasse Five | Publisher: Limasse Five | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam / itch.io

The opening scene of NaissanceE, in which your character is sprinting for dear life through seemingly endless corridors, might fool you into thinking this is an action title. The chase comes to an end when her pursuer (something that looks like a swarm of angry cubes) corners her. Unexpectedly the floor gives way and our protagonist lands heavily in a stark white room below. The words “Lucy is lost” briefly appears on the screen and you take control.

A short tutorial teaches you the basic controls, running, jumping, ducking and breathing, but the game remains tight lipped about your whereabouts and purpose.  NaissanceE is a first person exploration game, so there are no weapons, special abilities or any of the usual tools you might find in a game. There are no mission goals, objectives or overarching purpose either so, if you require those things in order to enjoy a game, NaissanceE will leave you feeling lost and bewildered.

The game takes place inside what the developers call a “primitive mysterious structure” which doesn’t even begin to describe the surreal setting. The abstract architecture show traces of inspiration by titles like Portal as well as the manga “Blame!” by Tsutomu Nihei. There is no HUD, health indicators, score or even map that comes between you and the game –and don’t expect any hand holding either. Naissancee is a game that was designed to make you feel lost and lonely in an unknown setting and, trust me, it succeeds. While the game is pretty linear, it doesn’t mean that making progress is easy. Dark, claustrophobic tunnels give way to open areas that are so vast it will make you feel like an ant. You’ll also encounter dizzying heights and traverse enough steep staircases to induce bathmophobia.

While the majority of the game involves exploring your mysterious surroundings there is also some platforming and puzzle solving to be done. The puzzles mostly have to do with lights and shadows, which can be tricky, but there is nothing that is too obscure. The platforming sections are a bit more challenging as you often have to traverse areas where a slight miscalculation can see you plummeting to your death. This wouldn’t have been too bad if it wasn’t for the rather harsh checkpoint system which can lead to needless repetition. The developer has stated that an upcoming patch will add more checkpoints, though.

The highlight of Naissancee is without a doubt the visuals and atmosphere. As I made my way through the foreboding surrounds, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of unease. There is just something about certain areas that is unsettling in a way that I cannot even begin to explain. Even areas that feature familiar architecture feel surreal and out of place due to the lack of textures and excellent use of shadows. The game can also be beautiful at times, with sweeping views of some unfathomably big structures. It is probably a good thing that you can’t wander too far off course, as the sheer scale of some areas is downright intimidating. There are some surprises tucked away in the depths of the game as well, some good, like a doll of a familiar character cropping up unexpectedly, and others not so good, such as an infinite staircase that can trap the unaware. No explanations are ever offered about where you are or why certain things are happening which just deepens the mystery.

The game uses standard first person controls so you look around using your mouse and jump using spacebar. Sprinting is made a little trickier by the inclusion of a breathing mechanic. As you run, a white circle appears onscreen prompting you to click the mouse button to take a breath. Controlling your characters breathing enables her to sprint for longer and it adds a little more challenge to the platforming sections. There is no speech, but you can hear your characters breathing as she runs and her gasps of pain if you miss any jumps. We have become so accustomed to the constant jabbering in games, from audio logs and diaries that interrupt even solo horror titles, that the silence in Naissancee can be somewhat unsettling. The music is superb and really enhances the atmosphere of the game. Interestingly enough, the audio was not composed for the game, but instead came from existing albums.

The abstract nature of Naissancee makes for a refreshing change and at times I felt like I was exploring the endless corridors of a dream. This is the type of game where you have to immerse yourself in the experience, so turn down the lights and use a good pair of headphones. It is also the type of game that is not going to appeal to players who want a clearly laid out story and familiar gameplay, but there are already enough titles available to cater for such tastes. It took me seven hours to complete my journey through Naissancee and while there were definitely some frustrating moments, it was undoubtedly a memorable experience. If you are not afraid to try something new and have a vivid imagination, you might want to check out Naissancee. It is an ambitious debut title for Limasse Five and I look forward to see what they will come up with next.

*Review originally published February 2014.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP3 or Windows Vista
  • Processor: 2.0+ GHz multi-core processor
  • Memory: 3 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA 8800 gts or similar graphics card
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: 3.0+ GHz multi-core processor
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA 460 gtx or higher graphics card
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space

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