Back in August, Mavros Sedeño kindly answered our questions on Limasse Five’s first project: upcoming first-person adventure NaissanceE. We’ve now been lucky enough to get our hands on a preview copy of the game and we can tell you that it’s even more stunning hands-on.
We first came across NaissanceE on Steam Greenlight and were so intrigued by the dark, mysterious structures shown in its visuals that we just had to get in touch with the developer. Described by Limasse Five as ‘a philosophical trip and an artistic experience’, it takes place in a primitive structure and aims to make players appreciate the feeling of being lost in a gigantic, unknown universe and marvelled by the beauty of this world.
We were recently provided with a preview version of the title and unfortunately we’re unable to capture footage or share this in any way. But we can give you our first impressions, and the gameplay trailer below will provide you with a look at the little gem Mavros Sedeño has on his hands.
The beginning of the game doesn’t explain much about your character or your whereabouts: all you know is that your name is Lucy and you’re lost in a huge, primitive structure after being chased by a hissing monster. At first the white labyrinth looks cold and empty, perhaps a little ‘clinical’ even, with hard corners and flat surfaces without texture. But after a while you come across features that imply some kind of society: bridges stretched across dark chasms, curved archways that suggest openings or temples, and what looks like an ‘administration block’ full of dormitories. At one point we even found what could be described as a developer’s bedroom complete with a bunk-bed, bright consoles and an ‘owl’ toy on the uncomfortable-looking sofa.
It invokes a very strange emotion in the player: these signs of habitation make the structure feel like a real place but the lack of any contact causes it to become haunted and abandoned. There are plenty of corridors to explore and you’re often presented with a dead-end but this surprisingly doesn’t dampen your spirits. It just means that there’s another area to discover, the formation of the environment giving the impression that you’re uncovering secret paths and urging you to continue on.
And continue on you must, for there’s plenty to see. In our original preview of NaissanceE Mavros told us about the part of the game he’s most pleased with visually: “The ‘big well’ is one of my favourite places, I hope players feel small and alone when arriving in this area.” If he’s talking about the area we think he is, we came across it in the second chapter and we can really see why he would single this location out – when we arrived here, the entire 1001-Up.com team let out a collective ‘Wow’.
Turning a narrow corner and following the light through a passage, players find a massive abyss in front of them. Peering over the edge of the platform reveals a shadowy shaft with windows carved into the sides and pipework running around the exterior, implying that it’s some kind of inverted skyscraper. The strangest thing about this area is its elevators: giant slug-like entities that caterpillar-crawl their way down and help you descend. Their style reminded us of dark cloud from Thomas Was Alone, and the contrast between the mechanical and what-seems-to-be-organic is stunningly impressive.
NaissanceE provides a great platforming challenge: running across inconsistently-sized platforms, balancing on pipes and jumping across chasms, as well as riding those huge slug-elevators. We really loved the breathing mechanic: players have the ability to sprint for a short period, and clicking the mouse-button when a circle is displayed on the screen causes your character to breathe. Do this consistently and you’ll maintain your breathing, thus increasing your sprinting time.
On the Limasse Five website it’s mentioned that the title contains some rare but exigent sequences as a tribute to old-school die-and-retry games, and we can certainly see where this comes into play. In one particular section it’s necessary to sprint and jump across spinning poles and making a mistake will see you sucked into the fan and meeting a bloody end. This could potentially end up being a cause of frustration for some gamers, but we found this level of difficulty is a refreshing change from the modern trend of hand-holding.
Puzzles are largely based on the use of light and sometimes require a bit of experimentation. The play of shadow on the smooth surfaces means that areas and objects can be concealed, and the gloom created by moving lights causes both spaces and distances to become distorted. We have to admit that it did take us a bit of time to solve the first major puzzle – there are challenges here for even the more experienced of gamers!
In huge temple-like structures, walls and blocks are made out of a substance that is only solid when illuminated and guiding lights become your instruments. Players must use their surroundings to create platforms and sometimes it’s necessary to make these disappear altogether so you can go through to rooms on the other side. Later on, the mechanic is used on a larger scale and the platforms can be manipulated without light; it’s integrated into machinery and this really gives a sense that the deeper you work your way into the labyrinth, the more advanced its inhabitants were.
So far we’ve found Limasse Five’s title to be a beautiful and lonely trip. Mavros previously told us that there may be more to look forward to from the NaissanceE’s world in the future but we may have to wait a while: “I first have many game concepts in the wait to take shape. The original idea behind NaissanceE is still growing in my mind for now, the scale and complexity of the project will require a good and large team to be achieved.”
It won’t be much longer until we can get our hands on the full version of game as it was greenlit by the Steam community recently. The release of Limasse Five’s first project is planned for early 2014 and it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.