Game Review: N.E.R.O. (Xbox One)

N.E.R.O. or Nothing Ever Remains Obscure is a first person adventure game based on puzzle solving and exploration. In the game, you traverse through a magical world. Throughout the journey you’ll discover floating pieces of dialogue that slowly unravel its sorrowful tale. NERO is something of a visual novel or a walking simulator. It’s fairly similar to games such as: Dear Esther & Gone Home.

The story that Nero presents may or may not have you intrigued from the very beginning. It’s quite slow to start and a little hard to follow but things soon become clear. The first thing you’ll notice when playing Nero is the uniqueness of the world you find yourself in. I applaud the creative aesthetic.

However, visually the game can be extremely rough around the edges. I suffered many issues involving blurred textures, pop-ins, framerate and other technical bugs. Still, at just the right moment Nero has the ability to look stunning. At times, it feels as if the very game itself is struggling to display the shear complexity of the world. Also, I noticed a couple of grammatical and spelling errors in certain texts.

Nero has a couple of cinematic scenes and they are probably my favourite thing about the game. Why couldn’t the game have looked like it does in these moments? I mean, I know why but seriously it looks phenomenal.

The world would feel rather hollow without some kind of story to go along with it. Thankfully, Nero provides one but it’s quite the contrast to the fantastical land it’s based around. Almost everything you encounter is some type of metaphor for something else. Simply put, it’s about a couple and the sorrow they endure when their child becomes terminally ill.

In terms of actual gameplay, Nero offers very little. There are a number of puzzles, some of which are optional. Most of them are straightforward but others are more than a little frustrating. There isn’t actually that much room to explore, the game is plagued by invisible walls. To feel fully invested, fully understand and appreciate Nero you must experience everything it has to offer. It’s too easy to miss vital pieces of information that could easily leave you feeling lost.

There is vocal narration in Nero but I found it to be rather dull. The narrator doesn’t sound particularly interested in what they are reading, it’s quite monotone.

Overall, Nero delivers a calming, melancholic atmosphere. It has a wonderful soundtrack and an appealing visual style. Still, graphically and technically it’s lacking. If you can get past these problems then somewhere buried within is a deeply saddening tale about life, loss and guilt. In my opinion, it’s one that is well worth experiencing.

  • The Final Score - 7/10
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