Pneuma Breath of Life is a puzzle game that reminds me of a cross between the PC puzzler Myst and Portal in that through a first person point of view, you must make your way through the beautiful landscapes by solving puzzles to open doors and move platforms.
You don’t have a name, you don’t even know quite why you are making this journey and that’s also part of the intrigue – if it wasn’t for one of the most annoying piece of voice acting I’ve ever encountered in a game. As you make your way throughout the levels you are constantly bombarded by your character’s train of thought and it’s like sitting next to someone in the office with no interior monologue when you’re trying to concentrate on a particularly tricky piece of work. The voice babbles on in a rather smug way asking questions and then attempting to answer them without taking a breath! The creators say they wanted a voice similar to that of the late, great Rik Mayall but what we end up with sounds like someone from the development team’s brother who is into am dram. Trust me, if you don’t really care about the story and just came here for the puzzles, turn off the voice.
The puzzles increase in difficulty and occasionally have that level of difficulty where you eventually have that moment of clarity to progress which shows good balancing. Some involve you looking at eyes in fixed positions to keep doors opens and platforms in place, others involve playing with light and you’ll also be manipulating switches and levers to get to the next stage in your quest. My problem is that I was just getting into some of the more tricky puzzles when the game ended. This game is short and if you are good at logic puzzles you will find it just too easy.
The game looks great though. The first game to use Unreal Engine 4, the photo realistic textures, sky and objects are super shiny with great real time reflections. It really is very very pretty.
Despite having some good puzzles at times, I find it hard to recommend this game. It misses the mark when it tries to be funny, is very short and not that challenging. Pick up The Orange Box or play Portal 2 instead. You’ll have lots more fun and not get bombarded by a weird voice over spouting philosophy. Pneuma gets 5 out of 10.