Son of Nor Review
Making games is hard - there’s no disputing that. Sometimes no matter how much passion and creativity the developers have, the final product just doesn't come together. Son of Nor, a third-person action RPG from stillalive studios, is one of these games. There are good ideas to be found, but ultimately the game is held back by poor execution and a lack of polish.
Son of Nor is set in the world of Noshrac, a harsh, desert environment where mankind's last vestige is an enclave known as The Edge. After centuries of peace, Humanity's mortal enemy, a reptilian race known as the Sarahul, has returned. As a Son of Nor - one of the remaining humans granted the powers of telekinesis and terraforming by the goddess Nor - you set out to destroy the impending threat.
Despite the title, you are able to create a male or female character. There are four archetypes to choose from - two male and two female - but these are purely visual and have no effect on the gameplay. With a heroine created, I jumped into the game's single-player campaign. Initially, you're granted just telekinesis and terraforming, which can be used constantly without penalty. Using these abilities, you gain control of your environment: picking up and moving debris, raising and lowering sand.
With telekinesis you can lift objects individually, or lift all the pieces of debris within your character’s radius and throw them successively. This is useful for hurling projectiles at your enemies and removing obstacles. The terraforming is pretty handy too, and can be used to reach high places, dig under obstructions and crush Sarahul.
The campaign follows a Zelda-like structure, taking you through temples containing enemies, puzzles and bosses. As you might expect, these temples have an elemental theme - wind, fire and spirit - and at the end of each you are rewarded with the power of that element. While telekinesis and terraforming can be used infinitely, these powers are limited to three uses, and must be recharged at sources in the environment.
Using these powers, you can enhance objects that you’ve lifted with telekinesis for a different effect. You can also combine two elementally charged objects together, like fire and wind to create a fiery vortex. Clearly, the developers have set out to give the player as much destructive freedom as possible.
I'm usually a sucker for these kinds of physics-based mechanics, but Son of Nor just didn’t do it for me. Games such as Star Wars: The Force Unleashed granted similar abilities, albeit with much more precision and polish. The physics are floaty and unrealistic, so combat lacks any sort of punch and the game is rife with glitches; from physics glitches that result in your death, to amusing bugs like my female character occasionally speaking in a man’s voice. On the plus side, the game's use of voice acting, while cheesy, is pretty good.
The game's graphics aren't any better: textures are flat, character animation is stiff and environments lack detail. Loading screens and in-game menus use what looks like placeholder text. The whole game has an unfinished feel to it - I found myself checking the store page just to make sure it wasn't actually an Early Access title.
The campaign can also be played cooperatively with up to three other players online, or in two player split-screen. The game also includes a four player online PvP mode. Unfortunately I wasn't able to try out any of the multiplayer options because I couldn't find a game online. If you can find a few buddies to join up with, though, it seems like this would be the way to play.
Somewhere in Son of Nor, there's a great game desperately trying to get out. The mechanics reward experimentation, and there are some genuinely fun puzzles, but unfortunately it all falls apart due to dodgy physics and messy presentation. What's frustrating is that it seems like most of the rough edges could be polished off with a bit more time. Instead, what we're left with just feels sloppy and unfinished.
Son of Nor (Reviewed on Windows)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
Somewhere in Son of Nor, there's a great game desperately trying to get out, but ultimately the game suffers from poor execution and a lack of polish.