PCNovember 16, 2011 by Omar Elaasar
If you've ever flown a plane in a videogame before, you know the feeling. The slow ascent, the escalation of the throttle, and the exhilaration of takeoff. It is also the feeling of that time you rolled too hard, titling the plane off balance and throwing yourself into a rapid descent, struggling to pull up despite knowing that you only have a few seconds before your inevitable demise.
Nimbus is the videogame translation of that feeling. Slow to start, exhilarating in the right places, and dotting with a frustrations along the way.
In simple terms, Nimbus can be described as a physics based puzzle racing game. Its focus is on time attack and mastery of obstacle courses a la Super Meat Boy, although its physics elements bring to mind the puzzles of NightSky.
You take control of a small craft, unable to propel itself by its own means, and must use its momentum to traverse the various courses. Bounce pads, boost pads, color-coded switches, keys, cannons and various physics objects litter the stages. You'll often have to use these to open up new sections of courses. Later stages also open up a bit, allowing you to tackle smaller challenges within the stage to obtain the keys that will open up the exit. Often times the exit will be right at the start point, challenging you to run to the end of the stage and back, completing optional objectives along the way.
You'll be constantly diving down steep drops, passing over booster pads and colliding with bounce pads to keep up momentum. Mastering this momentum and cutting a perfect racing line through the courses is a joy in itself and will be required to earn the various hidden medals and secret exits. This is where Nimbus' racing pedigree is most obvious, with dodging complex obstacles, activating switches, and boosting momentum in quick succession bringing the same satisfaction of mastering the curves of a racetrack.
It will be an uphill battle to get to that point. The initial learning curve requires patience and slowly losing momentum and coming to a sputtering halt is a frequent frustrating of the first few stages. The levels give you a very limited view as well, which in turn causes a bit of trial and error on your part before you understand all the mechanics and paths you'll have to use to reach the exit. In further stages the game uses its charm to lure you into deathtraps that begins to resemble something out of Super Meat Boy or VVVVV, but unlike those games, death is not a quick annoyance, but can be a major setback.
For those with quick fire twitch skills and a speedrun mentality there is a good amount of game time to be had. Mastering a level is a reward itself, and grabbing the hard to reach medals and achievements brings great satisfaction. The medals not only test your prowess, but will unlock different crafts and trails, allowing you a bit of customization. The alternate exits also open up to alternate, often more difficult levels, which a couple of the more inventive stages lie.
For others, there is a charming mix of frustration and reward here, although you should probably leave the 100% completion to the masochists.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
Omar Elaasar is an hobbyist artist, writer, and game developer, and is dedicated to playing obscure games in order to maintain his status as a most pretentious hipster.
About the Author: Omar Elaasar
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