I love inventory-based puzzle games that take place in large, detailed 3D spaces. I feel like there aren’t enough of them. This is why I’m greatly looking forward to Nascence, a horror game that follows up the developer’s game Anna. I got to take a look at the game’s puzzle demo, which will soon release to the public, and while it has some iffy things going on, I was impressed and very much wanted to play more.
Nascence‘s demo makes it immediately clear that it’s a “puzzle demo” by blatantly putting those words onscreen before you start. Large sections of the town have invisible walls that cannot move outside of the demo, and they’ve removed gameplay around the puzzles to keep the focus on exploration and puzzle-solving. Granted, this is a solid chunk of game that took me about 45 minutes to get through. The demo begins with the main character receiving a call from a member of his congregation. They appear to be in a witch cult of some sort. Fun!
Mark, one of the cult members, was supposed to retrieve the witch’s ashes and deliver them to a high-ranking member of the organization. Only, Mark never showed up. So the main character heads to the French village of Reluné to find out what happened to Mark and locate the witch’s ashes. Arriving in town, I was impressed by Nascence‘s visuals. Despite being made by such a small team, it’s gorgeous. The assets are all high resolution and the lighting brings the village to life. The game is also demanding as hell, as my FPS was in the 30s.
Oh, hi, Mark
Your immediate goal is to turn on the power in a nearby museum and find Mark. Doing both is quite simple, as there’s a breaker directly on the museum wall facing the direction of your entrance. You need to loot a nearby shack for a key, though, which actually got me stuck for a bit. Nascence puts an icon on the screen when your sights are set on something you can interact with. But for a chest of drawers, it doesn’t change icons for individual drawers. This led to me not realizing that all three drawers could be opened.
I’m not going to spoil the specifics here, but Nascence is a horror game. The rest of the demo does a solid job of indicating what you should be doing at any given time. But the translation is rough, so it can be hard to parse some things. At one point, you need to develop film to solve a puzzle. Attempting to do this with your flashlight on and the darkroom door open will see the main character scolding you, as doing so would damage the film. I like that attention to detail.
What I don’t like is that you’re not able to grab a map and refer to it at will, which can make getting around a bit of a chore. This is worsened by how unbearably slow the main character’s movement is. I’m hoping that there are solutions to these issues when Nascence releases, as they were the main things standing in the way of further enjoyment. Regardless, I wanted more after playing the demo. The atmosphere is great and the puzzles were fun too, even if I got lucky and happened to notice a knife jammed into a tree at a location that I had no need to go to. Gotta love grabbing random items.