Nihilumbra is a 2D puzzle platformer from Barcelona-based developers Beautifun Games. The game was first released on iOS back in July 2012 but has now come to Steam. At first glance you might dismiss the game as just another platformer but stick with it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
You play as a small black blob called Born. At the start of the game Born is created by a large nothingness known as the void. As he goes off to discover the wonders of the world the void decides it wants him back. As you push on in your adventure the void is always chasing you and it’s your job to stay one step ahead.
Right at the start of his adventure Born takes the form of a scarecrow that he finds. This is the form he uses for the rest of the game. He also begins to wonder about some rather big questions such as why is he alive? And what is the point of everything?
Initially Born can do nothing other than move and jump. During his travels he discovers colours that he can learn how to use to change the world around him. You can control Born with the keyboard and his powers with the mouse.
Colours can be painted onto surfaces to change their properties. Blue works like ice allowing Born to gain speed, objects to slide and enemies to slip. Red sets things on fire and is useful for destroying objects and enemies. Green makes things bounce; Brown can be used for stealth and is sticky while Yellow can conduct electricity.
These powers are introduced slowly as you progress through the game giving you plenty of time to learn how to use them. As you get further into the game you need to use them to solve the many puzzles. Towards the end of the game you often need to switch between them quickly.
The colours elevate the game from a simple platformer to one that requires you to constantly think in order to progress. Most of the puzzles are quite easy to solve but others will have you scratching your head and dying often. Fortunately a generous checkpoint system ensures you never have to replay much if things go bad. When you do solve a puzzle it’s always very satisfying.
As you discover the world there is a narrator who acts as your guide. He is wonderfully voiced and rather slow and dramatic. Everything he says feels important and you’ll often pause to ensure you hear all he has to say or to ponder the questions he poses. The narration adds a kind of relaxed feel to the game and certainly made us take our time.
Graphically the game looks beautiful with lovely hand painted backdrops. There are also plenty of great special effects such as weather which really add atmosphere. Born himself is rather simplistic but his animation is very well done. The soundtrack deserves a special mention because the music is stunning and really fits the mood and tone of the game.
On your first playthrough of Nihilumbra it can feel a bit too easy at times but the difficulty does gradually increase. Beating the game unlocks void mode which sends you back through the levels. Don’t worry though as it feels completely different as the difficulty is really ramped up and you’ll need to use all your skills to overcome them.
Nihilumbra is a wonderful game that we would highly recommend to fans of the platform and puzzle genres. Be aware to see the whole game you should expect a real challenge from the void mode. If you’re looking for a platformer that’s a little bit different then be sure to check it out.