Review: NaissanceE

NaissanceE by Limasse Five is a brutalism exploration 3D platformer set in a mysterious world inhabited by strange creatures. Then there’s you, the player, who seems to be a human hunted by a large snake-like thing. You either don’t belong here or have overstayed your welcome — or are you on the run, looking for a way out? The word “naissance” has to do with birth, origin, or growth, which might tell us something about what’s going on, although it doesn’t explain the grand scale cities, the monuments and megastructures, who the lights guiding us are, or who any of the inhabitants are. Maybe the game’s title is just referencing the process of building the game world!? Or is this the dream world of someone yet to be born? No matter what it is, it is a fascinating world. If the Blame! influence is anything to go by, the game world was built by machines gone amok imitating, but not understanding, human architecture.

NaissanceE is also a brutal platformer, in a “fuck you, no compromises” kind of way. The game will not help you, except at the very beginning to get you started, but, as someone who wasn’t born into the era of quest markers et al, this is the default for me and I welcome it. The game is consistently relentless in everything it does, and it trusts the player to either rage-quit or pull through to the end. I got lost and frustrated from time to time, but I don’t mind that in a game (I’m also a fan of Myst-like games, which might explain a thing or two). The brutality of it all can partly be explained, and slightly diminished, by the fact that I suffered lag before lowering the graphics quality to a minimum. I’m not kidding; the lag actually made the end level impossible to finish, because things took too long to render and got out of sync. I’m playing this a second time now, with the graphics quality already at its lowest, and things I struggled with earlier are now a lot easier, so the lag was there all the way from the start, but became a real showstopper only at the end. My machine is quite old (almost 5 years), so others will probably not experience this.

One thing I could complain about is how easy it is to get stuck — especially if you, like me, like to explore a lot — having to kill myself in order to proceed, and then start over from whatever spot the game decided to save at, which brings me to the next issue I had: the lack of manual saves. In a game world as inviting as this, I wish I could save at any time, so I could stupidly jump down anywhere just to see where it would take me — or explore that SCP reference (SCP-087 to be precise) without fear of having to start over.

I just got reminded of the most frustrating sequence: the last turbine/fan before you proceed to the madness level. The repeating, sudden(?) gusts of wind is what made it so hard for me. Many times I thought I was safe or had reached the end, but then the wind came and told me otherwise. The wind also forced me to always run, or else I wouldn’t reach safety before the next gust of wind would come to take me away, so I had to manage my breathing while at the same time dodging the flying debris or figuring out where to go next. Then we have the madness level: that one isn’t so hard as it is confusing; you have to think in new ways for many of the challenges in that level. The way light and shadow is used is something else — not only in this level, but throughout the game.

Edit 2:
The soundtrack consists of tracks by, among others, Patricia Dallio, Thierry Zaboitzeff, Pauline Oliveros, and Deep Listening Band (of which PO was a member) and fits the game very well.

Game’s website