Review: Pneuma: Breath of Life

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Pneuma is a first-person puzzler, with some amazing looking graphics at times due to its use of Unreal Engine 4. But thats all the game has going for it. Throughout the story you are led to believe you are like a “god,” but you internally question some things that are going on, such as the existence of certain features in your own world. During most of the puzzles the character gives you a little hint on how you should solve each one. But I quickly became annoyed by the mellow and monotonous tone of his voice, so I essentially tuned him out. As you might imagine, this can make each future puzzle more difficult since you’re virtually not getting the one provided hint. That said, if you are good at this type of game, the hints are probably not needed until you make significant progress. Most of the initial puzzles are simple, requiring that you look at an eye to open a door, create sound, or just pull a lever. However, once you get further into the game, listening to the “god’s” monologue is must. At one point it took me awhile to figure out that I just had to sit and stare at a sundial to complete the puzzle – all because the only character in the game had almost immediately lost my attention.

Pneuma_01

As I said before, the game looks gorgeous most of the time, but some effects that gamers would find impressive in other cases ruin Pneuma’s overall experience. For example, the abundance of white marble and reflecting light (likely used to show off the strength of Unreal Engine 4) make the world overwhelmingly bright, effectively causing an irritating headache that partially ruined my playthrough. Maybe I shouldn’t have completed the ~5 hour story in one sitting, but no other game’s visuals had made me physically sick until now.

Pneuma_09

On the bright side, if you are an achievement hunter, it is an easy to unlock 1000 Gamerscore. All you have to do is play and finish the game, with the exception of three achievements that require you go through different chapters and complete minor tasks – such as looking at specific pictures in a row or lighting torches with your sight. I personally enjoyed the first 30 minutes, but it seems like the developers made the puzzles repetitive to unnecessarily extend the game, knowing that you usually complete a puzzle game and just toss it aside. In this case you will likely continue the trend.

If you’re a puzzle fan and want to boost your Gamerscore on the Xbox, this game could possibly be for you, but wait until it goes on sale. But if you’re only a puzzle fan, you might just want to invest your money into another game. If you don’t have an Xbox One, don’t worry – you only have to wait 30 days before its available on Steam, where the developers plan to add Oculus Rift support. I got sick playing the game with a controller, so I don’t want to imagine what it would be like in virtual reality.