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Nimbus (PC) Review

Attention fellow gamers! Brutal Gamer is about to introduce you to a deceptively simple little game that’s going to suck away all your free time for the foreseeable future. No need to thank me. Just imagining your lost productivity is all the thanks I need. Gamers, I give you–Nimbus.
Nimbus is a cool little puzzle/racing game from Swedish developer Noumenon Games that will reel you in with its deceptive simplicity, but keep you coming back for its fun and imaginative gameplay. You play as a cute, little bullet-shaped ship that has absolutely no propulsion of its own. You must bounce off buoyant platforms, jump into pipes, and shoot out of cannons–all in the ultimate goal of reaching those lovely checkerboard blocks at the finish of each level.  You can earn different cute, little bullet-shaped ships along the way, and switch back and forth between them as desired.  The look of Nimbus is very Mario-esque, filled with cartoony, tree-filled platforms topped with wavy green grass and blue skies. Everything is bright and colorful, with pipes to jump into and spikes to avoid, and the soundtrack fits dead-on with the retro Mario feel of the rest of the game. I am also reminded somewhat of World of Goo, as each level is basically short and sweet but must be solved in just the right way to advance. You can choose to play at 3 different difficulty levels: easy, normal, and hard. Playing at easy gives you infinite lives at each checkpoint, whereas normal only gives you 5. Hard gives you 0, so it’s best to start off slow and practice a bit at easy or normal before taking on the hard mode.
One of both the best and worst aspects of this game are the controls.  The entire control scheme is keyboard-based; no mouse necessary. This is all good though, because the gameplay is quite simple and really wouldn’t lend itself well to using a mouse anyway. You can use either w,a,s,d or the arrow buttons to control your little bullet-shaped ship through some very familiar looking levels. To add to the challenge of the game, the controls are specific to the ship, and not the level. By that, I mean that when you push left, your ship will fly to the ship’s left–not necessarily to the left of the screen. Getting used to that can be quite frustrating, and you’ll often get completely turned around–particularly when the ship is flying downward. It is a good frustration though, as it makes the game a bit more challenging. The ship operates on the basic principles of physics, and will bounce at proportionate angles, lose speed as it ascends, and increase speed as it falls. The down arrow acts as a brake, and you can use it to slow the ship’s descent. You can also use the left and right arrows to sort of dip up and down to accelerate a bit on long stretches. My one real complaint with the controls would be the placement of the restart level as the CTRL key. CTRL, as you know, is right next to the arrow keys. Get a little excited in the middle of a tense level and you may find your fumbling fingers restarting the level just as it looks like you might actually finally conquer it. This happened to me an embarrassing amount of times, and it got no less irritating each time I managed to restart the level.
There really isn’t any storyline to the game, and there is no tutorial at all other than than a natural progression of difficulty that helps you catch on to new skills quickly enough. But this is one of those rare games that really doesn’t need either one. You are bouncing off walls and shooting yourself out of cannon checkpoints; knowing why really wouldn’t anything to the gameplay, and trying to figure out where the heck you are supposed to go and what you should be doing is all part of the fun. The game is simple to learn, and easy enough to catch on to, yet is quite challenging and definitely won’t bore you. Nimbus is currently available for download via Steam for the price of $9.99 in the U.S. or £5.99 in the U.K., which makes it a relatively cheap way to kill a few hours.
Final Thoughts
Nimbus is a game that is ridiculously hard at times, and extremely frustrating….but addictively so. This is a game that screams “You almost got it!” and makes you want to try again. And again. And again. And no worries about finishing up a level and feeling satisfied. Each time you conquer a cute, little level, you will be treated to a lovely world scoreboard that will show you in fine detail just how much your time sucks compared to the rest of the world. You’ll be playing those levels over and over again, just to shave a few seconds off your time. I give Nimbus an 8 out of 10, and recommend it to fans of puzzle games, and anyone looking for an  economical and challenging diversion.

About Amy

U.S. Senior Editor/Deputy EIC at BrutalGamer, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @MacAnthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)

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