Nebulous, one of the first physics-based puzzle games for VR that we’ve come across, has been released. Time for a quick review.
When we first heard of Nebulous, we figured it had something to do with the classic 16/8-bit platformer Nebulus – that is, of course, before we properly read the name. Instead, Nebulous is a sci-fi themed puzzle game that is probably best described as a variation on the classic Incredible Machine/Crazy Machines formula. In each level, you’re presented with a playing grid on which you can place various items to help you guide a little astronaut towards the exit – a wormhole. To aid you, or hinder you, gravity plays a major factor in how this turns out.
The game formula is somewhat simplified from what games like The Incredible Machine offer, especially in terms of how complex some of your setups will be and how many different puzzle items you can use. This seems to be a direct result of the choice to design Nebulous with VR in mind – as an Oculus Rift is recommended for an optimal experience. When designing for something like Oculus, the last thing you want is an extensive inventory of puzzle pieces to navigate through and then place with pinpoint accuracy.
As a result, the game works quite well when playing it in VR, but feels a tad oversimplified when you play on a regular monitor – almost like a casual puzzler designed for mobile devices. However, if you do have access to a VR headset then it’s a neat experience to play around in space with the forces of gravity – even though that technically doesn’t usually exist in space.
Your protagonist, the astronaut you’re guiding through each of the levels, is somewhat of an arrogant commander in chief type of guy called Dash Johnson. His attitude seems to be at odds with the fact that he actually needs your help non-stop, which feel like a bizarre choice but makes it a bit more okay to fail, I suppose.
For gamers without access to VR, there are probably similar games out there with more content – sometimes even community content. For them, Nebulous is a hard sell. If you’re looking to recreate such an experience in VR though – then Nebulous is a well-designed, easy to get into option for Oculus Rift users.