Game Music, Reviews

NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits (Review)

August 5, 2009 | | 5 Comments Share thison Facebook NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits (Review)on Twitter

Since the first few concept art shots were shown to the public, I have had an interest in NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits. With its inspiration drawn from ancient Greece, elemental Gods assisting you with their powers, a female protagonist with a unique look and 2D platform gameplay, it seemed to be a game that could fill the void in my gaming heart for a genre I miss dearly. The music from early footage seemed to rely on soft strings and very atmospheric style, which only helped to keep my interest high.

This summer, NyxQuest was released on WiiWare in Europe, and will be released in the US early next week.  We’ve fortunately had the opportunity to play through the title and listen to the soundtrack ahead of the US release.

So, how is it? Find out what we think after the jump!

NyxQuest is a 2D platformer which revolves around the story of Nyx, a mysterious girl with wings. One day, Icarus flies high in the sky to discover a new realm, where he meets Nyx, and quickly befriends her. As time goes on their friendship grows, but at the same time, Earth is slowly dying as the sun is getting hotter and hotter, and Icarus is getting worried. Suddenly the sun gets too hot, and Icarus’ wax wings melt, disabling him from flying to see his dear friend. After some time, Nyx becomes concerned and decides to fly down to Earth to look for Icarus, angering the Gods as she goes. When she reaches Earth, she sees how dead and deserted it is, and so her search begins.

This whole story is told by artwork in the style of ancient Greek wall jar paintings, and they look absolutely stunning. In fact, there is such a simple beauty to the whole art direction in this game, with the cut scenes being drawn faithfully to resemble ancient art, and the in game graphics using dark shades and bright light to give it a unique look. While the game is played on a 2D platform, The models are 3D and cel shaded, which helps it have a smooth, simple colored look. The enemies in this game are a type of completely black creatures, with design inspired by mythological beasts. The game’s art direction has a resemblance to the old European smash hit Another World (Note: Out of This World in the US) with its simplistic approach and lonely, unknown atmosphere.

The levels are designed in the old platform spirit; get from left to right and into a portal. Nyx can glide through the air for a limited time thanks to her wings, and as the game progresses, the Gods will warm up to her and grant her special powers, such as the ability to lift big objects. This gives us a few physics-based puzzles with the Wiimote, ensuring the game a spot in that wonderful world of “platform roots, with modern twist.” You also get the ability to control the wind and shoot enemies with lightning later on.

But what about the music? The music was composed by Steven Gutheinz, a young movie composer who in recent years has impressed many with his works in film and commercial. NyxQuest‘s soundtrack relies heavily on strings, and most of the melodies are soft, non-intrusive and mysterious. At first, I had a copy of the soundtrack standalone and listened to it. While the sounds and melodies were pleasant, at times beautiful, the substance of the compositions felt a bit lacking, and were hard to remember after I had listened to it how it. However, as soon as I played the game, it was a different story.

The music perfectly reflects almost every action on the screen with a sense of longing, a chilling feeling of loneliness and searching; it all makes sense once you actually combine the game and the music. In times of immediate danger, the music will quickly change to a faster paced drum-driven melody, perfectly shifting the mood from searching to combat and survival. The audio in NyxQuest might be its best part, as it is a perfect example of a soundtrack backing up the gameplay, and not just being either static background music to fill space or music that takes over the overall soundscape completely. On its own, it might not be groundbreaking, but in the game, it is breathtaking.

Like any game, however, there are flaws to be found. The motion control of lifting objects can sometimes be a bit delayed and create some annoying situations, and in the worst case, end up killing you. The sound effects are sometimes a bit loud compared to the overall volume of the game, and most notable of this is the sound of stones grating against each other when moving pillars or rocks. Also, when the Gods speak, they sound like my grandfather eating cabbage stew and talking at the same time, I swear I often would turn around to see if my grandpa had come over for a cabbage party because of that dialogue! And lastly, I am frustrated with the game’s length, but this is a hard one to complain about. The game can be finished in about only a few hours, and while this might feel short, it’s a classic platformer, and in the end you feel things have been wrapped up, ideas have been cleverly used, and there is a satisfaction there that does not take 30 hours to achieve. It might be a bummer for some, but personally, I am kind of happy it didn’t overdo it.

So I recommend NyxQuest if you are a fan of 2D platformers and want something to keep your platforming heart pumping.  If you’re in the mood for an adventure that won’t take 40 hours, it’s a great way to spend your time. It might not be a long time, but it’s time I feel is well spent. It’s also important that in this day and age, we don’t always need big explosions and space marines for action. Sometimes, all you need is a gust of wind and a friend in need.

NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits is scheduled for release 10th August in the US

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