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Niravasi Review

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Fast Facts

Niravasi

Developer: Soveram
Publisher: Soveram
Website: niravasithegame.co.uk
Genre(s): Adventure, RPG
Platform: PC via itch.io (Also available on Steam)
Age Rating: N/A
Release Date: 06/07/2022
Price: £7.19

A code was provided for review purposes

Niravasi is Real

Upon watching the trailer for Niravasi when we were offered a code, there were a few things that stood out to me. The adorable cat protagonist, the pixel art style, and the sense of adventure. I quickly realised that there was much more to indie developer Soveram’s first commercial game, and I was getting myself into something much darker…

Mura the cat sits on an airship, as one of his team says 'Niravasi? The haunted city of myth. That's just a children's story, Cat.'
I’ll show you!!

Taking on the role of Mura, a feline archaeologist, you’re lost in an ancient human city with your team missing. Trying to find your team and escape, you discover dark secrets on your journey through the ruins. Is this title the cat’s pyjamas, or was I left feline disappointed? Let’s find out.

Dark Secrets

Though Mura’s aim seems simple – grab the team and get out of there! – the planet of Aetherius is not one that’s easy to navigate. There are many sections before reaching the capital city of Niravasi, and you are not alone. Searching the abandoned homes and buildings, you find books with lore that piece the backstory of how Niravasi fell together. But you will also find more unsavoury things, like blood and dead bodies. There is a content warning at the start of the game, but I was still surprised at how dark it was. Without giving spoilers, how people lost their lives is deep and emotional. There’s an aspect of prejudice too, with the animal beings like Mura being looked down upon.

Mura the cat is in a dark room looking at a wall covered in blood, saying 'what in the world happened here?'
I don’t think I want to know…

Robotic beings roam the streets, with the Artificial Ecological Overseer Network, or AEON, being the leader of them all. While its original purpose was to protect and perfect humanity, this means it sees Mura as a threat. Though it’s not particularly meant to be a horror game, I found it incredibly scary when they chased me! The loud screeching noise they emitted actually made me jump, adding to the tension. It grounded me in the game, putting me in Mura’s paws.

Learning about Mura’s past was upsetting too, but developed his character well. I also loved the relationship between him and Clovis, a member of another team who is also trapped. You communicate over radio for most of the game, so it’s a testament to the quality of the dialogue too. So, while there are dark themes, it’s great world-building and creates a dystopian atmosphere.

Run Boy Run

Mura the cat shines a flashlight on a large robotic being.
Running into trouble!

The gameplay of Niravasi itself I found less enjoyable. Most of it was fairly simple; find keycards to open doors, search for codes to unlock things, or run for your life and hide often under a timer. Though I did like that it was simple with no combat to focus on the story, it got repetitive. I would have liked a wider range of gameplay mechanics to keep things exciting.

Though I’ll speak more about the art design later, sections of the environment were repetitive too. Each new area was different, but the buildings in each area reused the assets and looked exactly the same. This made it very difficult for me to navigate when trying to find things, as I wasn’t sure where I had been. I often got lost, so a mini-map would have helped me greatly. There were sometimes maps on the walls in certain places, but it wasn’t something you could carry with you and therefore hard to remember.

There were lots of saving terminals which were handy, and they also charged up your flashlight too. The flashlight mechanic was a good inclusion, as it added to the tense situation and made you wary of saving your charge. The controls in general were easy to use, with only buttons for movement, running, your flashlight, your radio and interaction. I would say to toggle running on in settings though, as it’s quicker to get around.

Lots to Discover

A computer screen shows an email from a lead scientist.
Pieces of evidence from years ago.

One thing I had mixed feelings about was that there were some side stories. This expanded the universe and extended game time, giving you more to do. However, I would sometimes complete these arcs not knowing they weren’t going to progress the main story. For example, I helped a machine in a store find out what happened to its human friend. While this was sweet and made me more invested, I would have liked a quest list perhaps. This would have made it easier to track what I was doing, as I had to radio call Clovis quite a bit as a reminder. Sometimes his information would be quite vague too, like mentioning a building I had no idea how to get to.

If you missed out on side stories, there wasn’t a way to revisit them either. You could have separate save files, but there wasn’t a way to go back to specific places, which was a shame. There were also collectables in the form of artefacts, but no counter to see how many I had collected or how many there were overall. They would have had more purpose this way, particularly if you could go back to collect them all too.

There is a hell of a lot of lore to be discovered, which did open up the world beyond Mura, to people of the past as well. These were in books and computers, which were scattered in nearly every room. It’s a lot of reading, which I found a little overwhelming even as someone who does enjoy reading. I did see many typos too, however, since I’m reviewing the itch.io version it may be different for the Steam version. It is up to you whether to look through them all though, and I appreciated how it unravelled the mystery.

A Once Great City

Mura the cat in a white room with coloured tiles on the floor and books on the wall.
A change of scene.

The pixel art was fantastic; I loved both the character designs and the environments. As mentioned before, a lot of assets were reused which made some areas look samey. However, each new place has a different colour palette and new themes. For example, the themes range from shops to a lab. I loved the use of camera angles too, rotating as you went up stairs or zooming out to show you the wider background. It was an impressive way to change perspective and explore your surroundings.

I wasn’t really a fan of the character portraits that showed alongside the dialogue. Usually, in pixel-style games, these portraits would be more detailed to get a better look at what the character looked like. However, though these showed a more realistic style, they were still quite basic. This is just a minor thing though and doesn’t take away from the main purpose of the game.

Mura stands by a desk; behind is a window looking down onto a courtyard with the robot beings.
Just don’t make any sudden moves…

The soundtrack was very good too, acting accordingly to the emotion of the scene. It was tense when being chased, and melancholic when recalling the past. I really liked the main menu music too! The audio of the robots, while quite jarring when you’re wandering around, did instil fear in me.

A First Game to Be Proud Of

While it seems I have been harsh throughout and picky, this is not me saying I did not enjoy Niravasi. As the first commercial game from solo developer Soveram, they should be very proud as it is clear so much love went into it. I personally felt there were improvements that could have been made to better my experience, but Niravasi had a major strength in its story and writing.

It’s not the title for you if you’re not someone who likes to read or is looking for faster-paced gameplay. It isn’t a title based on complex mechanics but rather focuses on uncovering the secrets of the mysterious city. There’s incredible world-building and great character development. At only £7.19 it’s a steal since it took me 6 hours to finish the story. I’m very excited to see what comes next from this developer, as they’re definitely one to keep an eye on.

Rapid Reviews Rating

2.5 out of 5

2.5

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