Games tell the best stories when their narratives and mechanics are entwined. It's a difficult skill to master, but when a developer gets right the results can be magnificent.
Nihilumbra almost manages it, twisting its tale of life and light around a quest for understanding and colour. In spite of some mistakes here and there, the end result is still a sparkling, unique platformer.
Black and blue
The story told here is that of Born, a blob of black ooze who escapes from a miserable place known only as The Void. Freed from the darkness, he sets out to explore the world, all the while trying to find his place in it.
As you work through the levels, you unlock different colours. These can be painted onto parts of the world, affecting Born and the other creatures you come across. Blue, for example, turns the ground to slippy ice, while green makes it bouncy and brown makes it sticky.
There are five to collect - one for each of the worlds you come across - and you can also use your void powers to clear away the colours you've painted. The system leads to some intriguing experimentation, as you try and work your way around obstacles with the tools you've been given.Gloomy guts
A voice from the void, which appears as type in the game, follows your every step, taunting and teasing you as you plan your way forwards. The platforming itself is pretty standard fare, with spikes, strong winds, and bottomless pits all blocking your way.
Each world ends with you sprinting away from a wall of the void-stuff you're made out of, relying on reaction times as well as brainpower to get you past the outcrops of rock and bear-trap like monsters that dwell under the ground.
The difficulty curve isn't perfect, and you'll sometimes find yourself stuck on a frustrating puzzle for a little bit too long. There are also spelling mistakes in the story that really should have been caught.
Still, Nihilumbra offers a unique, highly entertaining platforming experience, and its story is one of the most intriguing we've seen on iOS in a long time.
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