Storm in a Teacup’s NERO (Nothing Ever Remains Obscure) is a beautiful first-person, visual novel with gorgeous visuals and a touching story on love, family, and grief. The majority of the environments in NERO are dark, which would be a downside if everything in them didn’t give off light. From veining in the rocks, stars and auroras, to giant bio-luminescent caterpillars. The lighting is beautiful and helps guide the player through otherwise difficult to traverse caves and forests. This game tells its story via blocks of glowing text, scattered throughout the world. White text is told from the perspective of a narrator, while blue text represents lines from characters. Each block is in clear line of sight of the next block until an obstacle is reached. You are unsure of the identity of your character as well as the identity of the companion you meet early in the game. As the title suggests, these questions are answered as the story unfolds.
The obstacles in NERO are traditionally a locked door of some kind. The only mechanic for solving these puzzles is an orb of light used as a sort of projectile key. The key must be shot into appropriate key holes, sometimes from proper buttons on the floor. For example, a button may raise a pedestal with a keyhole in it, whilst obscuring another. Its at this point that your companion comes into use. NERO has a very simple point-and-release waypoint mechanic for your companion to stand on buttons so you can reach a better vantage point to project the key. The precision the key mechanic requires can be a bit frustrating at times since the relaxing atmosphere of the music and environments wouldn’t indicate that this is a precision game. The puzzles themselves are mostly simple and serve more as pacing tools than as the traditional brainteasers you find in most puzzle games.
The story of NERO is very short as the game can be finished in about three hours. This brevity does not in any way detract from the experience, and it is a breath a fresh air to experience an entirely relevant story with no filler. Should you venture off the beaten path, you can find collectibles in the form of scraps of a photograph which, when completed, gives more insight into the story. Each of the areas in NERO have their own photograph and their own unique scraps to collect. The game concludes on an emotional note as it brilliantly eludes to story points, allowing you to theorize and ponder until all is made clear in the end.
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