You should play: Naught Reawakening spins the platforming genre upside-down with this riveting sequel
These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.
2011’s Naught offered gravity-based platforming that required the player to rotate the world around the titular character, rather than manipulating the character (beyond a jump button) directly. While the inversion of gameplay mechanics was novel, it wasn’t until the recently released Naught Reawakening that developer Genera Mobile has really turned the iOS platform field upside down. With Naught Reawakening, the player has lush, creepy worlds to explore and the iconic game mechanic has been honed and augmented.
Read on for three more reasons why Naught Reawakening will invert your conceptions of platforming:
It’s not for the weak-willed, or weak-stomached: The objective of each level of Naught Reawakening (there are 31 levels, currently) is to reach the goal at the end. Collecting diamonds will unlock bonuses at the end of each of the four zones, but if you’re like me, just surviving to the end is a challenge.
Naught can collect blue-lit seeds that act like lives, and can activate checkpoints to save your progress. But expect to die a great deal, especially in the first few levels as you maneuver your feline-like shadow creature as nimbly as a buffalo doing ballet. We as players have trained ourselves to make our characters move, so when the virtual buttons instead rotate the world, there’s an adjustment. This is also the first game I’ve played where playing on the bus is definitely not recommended: My stomach couldn’t handle the inversion of gravity while also on a moving vehicle.
You’ll meet a whole new world… of unease: Speaking of uncomfortable feelings, the game’s developer decided to take a page from the Limbo or Contre Jour school of art design—Naught Reawakening is a much darker game than you’re probably used to playing. The world is cast in grays and blacks, with life-giving seeds appearing as blue and enemies often appearing in a startling orange. The shadowy Naught, your character, blends in with his/her world, and yet there is a sense in each level that you are not the hunter, but the hunted. Danger comes in the form of bright orange tentacles, brambles of bushes, and plants that will slowly drain the life out of you. An ethereal soundtrack also helps put you in a constant state of unease—will the next area contain a checkpoint, or brambled death?
There are no soft landings: Naught Reawakening uses its atmosphere and its level design effectively to keep the player constantly guessing, ensuring nothing feels routine. Naught will die and have to restart at a checkpoint if the character so much as sneezes near an obstacle and the first boss fight in particular took me a long time to beat. Part of this challenge can be attributed to the game’s improved level design: The levels aren’t shaped linearly but instead like an ant colony—so concepts like “ceiling” and “ground” go out the window. This means that even on the shortest, earliest of levels you’ll often have several restarts as you acclimate to the controls and the idea that danger is everywhere. As you begin to master the concept of spinning the world so your character drops like a marble to where you want them to go, Naught Reawakening introduces new wrinkles like bosses, utilizing your circular spirit companion like a pinball, and of course, new enemies.
Fans of platformers who have grown tired of making their character jump, shoot, and run through obstacles may enjoy the feeling of weightlessness and frightening abandon offered by Naught Reawakening. While beautiful, there is nothing about this game that ever feels easy or welcoming—and that’s part of its shadowy charm.