While exploring the depths of space, Commander Dash Johnson is pulled through a wormhole filled with giant puzzles and deadly traps. Players will attempt to assist Commander Johnson to escape a maze of wormholes in order to return home. This is the primary aim of Nebulous, a physics-based, puzzle game. Players must arrange the on-screen objects into position to help Commander Johnson reach the wormhole, while attempting to collect as many stars as possible.
The game is actually quite simple, requiring only that you position each of the different objects in such as way that when Commander Johnson falls from his starting point, gravity and momentum will do the rest. The game does increase its level of difficulty somewhat, as the variety of objects increases, each with different results when landed upon. Still, it isn’t what I’d call a brain teaser, and not deserving to be called a puzzle game at all. The game reminds me a lot of similar puzzle games, such as Incredible Machine and Bad Rats, but not nearly as complicated and immersive. There is one positive about the puzzles, in that each level does not feel too repetitive, with a new object or two, along with different wormhole configurations. The objects include gravity changing machines, bouncers, conveyor belts, and even very bouncy aliens.
What does make the game stand out, just a little, is its sense of humour. While falling and bumping into random objects may seem childish, its Commander Johnson’s retorts that make it humourous. Commander Johnson is your typical astronaut, know-it-all, much like Buzz Lightyear or Captain Qwark. Interestingly, the humour is derived more from failing to achieve the game’s objective in completing the level and guiding Johnson through the wormhole. This makes for a rather awkward twist in events, as I’d much rather see Commander Johnson fail (and most likely die) in order to hear his banter, than passing the mission and getting none of it.
Oculus Rift Support
Nebulous is actually VR ready, and supports gameplay using the Oculus Rift. In fact, while you are able to play using your mouse or controller, the game was built primarily for VR. Although I wasn’t able to test this myself, for obvious reasons, having seen a few gameplay teasers and verdicts using the Rift, it would make a lot more sense to purchase this game for that reason, as the interaction is a lot more immersive, as you rotate your head to reveal the different maps and options, while using gestures to position the objects.
I’m not sure Nebulous has enough depth to capture many gamers’ attention, but at R169 on Steam, it isn’t outrageously priced. If you own a VR headset, the game may be better utilised and enjoyed in such an invironment, but I can’t recommend it for normal use with the mouse or controller. The graphics aren’t spectacular, and the puzzles aren’t all that difficult. If you’re looking for a good brain teaser, with much more objects to interact with, there are many other options available on the market.
Nebulous is available on Windows PC and Mac via Steam, and PlayStation 4 from 30 August 2016.