Published on March 2nd, 2015 | by Tony0
Review: Pneuma: Breath of Life
Here we are again with yet another puzzle game in the ID@Xbox program, which is slowly becoming my new favourite genre at the moment may I add. The main focus that attracted me to Pneuma in the first place wasn’t the puzzles that the game seemingly offers, it was more down to how gorgeous it looked in trailers and screenshots and we all love a bit of eye candy from time to time. Pneuma looks so beautiful thanks to the guys at Deco Digital using Unreal Engine 4, but my only question about that leading into this review was this; is the game nothing more than a shiny looking tech demo with not much substance to it? Let’s crack on and find out.
Breath of Life instantly reminded me of games like Portal and other narrated puzzle games out there on the market, but the wonderful thing about Pneuma is it becomes its own game once you begin to play it. In Pneuma you take the control of your character right from the moment they are created, right through to an ending that has to be enjoyed for yourself rather than have a stupid reviewer like me spoil it all for you. The game is played out over 6 chapters and a Prologue and Epilogue chapter to play through, which are all narrated over by this God like character that you play. This was one of a couple of things that annoyed me while playing through the game though, as while he has a point of being there he does tend to waffle on like a posh guy at a fancy party, so I did find myself reaching for the volume button from time to time when I was stuck on a puzzle longer than 5 minutes.
At points in the game the graphics look genuinely gorgeous to look at, but other times it can come across as nothing special. Pneuma has its own unique look which feels very Roman and religious, which when added that with the above mentioned voice over can come across very overpowering. As a none religious person myself this part of the game was totally lost on me, hence why the above muting took place. I don’t think it’s meant to feel that way in the game at all, but for me personally it did.
The puzzles themselves are all to do with either moving things with a button press, or by looking at it and away from it with your eyes to make them move. Now while some of the puzzles are pretty simple very early on I did find myself a bit later in the game finding the puzzles taking a steep turn in difficulty, which for those that like a challenge will be welcome, but for those who bungled their way through the early stages it will become a tough task to not reach out to YouTube for some help. What I would say to this though is do stick with it and complete the puzzle for yourself, as reaching out for help takes away that sense of satisfaction you will get after working it out for yourself, not to mention shorten your time spent with the game even more. Without any help the game took me around 6 hours to finish all the chapters and leave me to mop up the three remaining achievements that the game has.
To buy Pneuma and enjoy it for yourself you’re looking at parting with £15.99/$19.99 on your console, which for me is just a little bit too pricey. While I understand that Deco Digital are a small studio who haven’t been paid while making this game expecting gamers to pay a price like this will turn many away from picking up this game at launch. I think a price point of around £9.99 would have been just about right, as I think many more casual gamers would have picked it up at that price.
I’m getting slightly worried of late as it’s seemingly become a trend where smaller studios are expecting gamers to pay a pretty big price for what is essentially an Indie game on a new-gen console. While some gamers love trying out the different experiences these smaller made games sometimes offer us, I still think the gamers who will sit it out and wait for a price drop on games like this easily outweigh those who will pick it up on day one. For this reason alone smaller studios need to attract gamers with a price that will make them think about that spur of the moment purchase, as while bigger studios can attract a sale thanks to any previous games they have released you smaller guys have not only got to sell the game to the people but also make us love your company. Anyway this part of the review is seemingly something I should blog about at a later date rather than spew out my thoughts in this review, so I will shut up.
Summary: Pneuma was a short yet enjoyable experience, with an ending that will certainly make you have a little think. The puzzles themselves are a nice change of pace if you don't play that many puzzle games, but the story the game offers might be a bit too much to take in, not to mention a voice-over guy who never shuts up.