Pneuma: Breath of Life, Review - Games Weekly

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pneuma: Breath of Life, Review

This isn’t the first time a first-person puzzle game has attempted to question the meaning of identity and self. We've had The Talos Principle, Portal, Antichamber… in fact, pretty much any puzzle game that's slotted you inside the eyes of the protagonist has dabbled in philosophy.

Pneuma: Breath of Life is no different. You're plonked down into a vaguely Greco-Roman temple dotted with anomalous tech in the shape of eerie blue eyes. These eyes are the key to the game's central concept: you are the most important person in the world. The way these room puzzles are solved is through line of sight looking directly at one of these eyes will usually do something, like open a door, close a door or change something in the room.

Later on, the puzzles open up into other objects clocks, buttons, lights but still the concept is the same: without your interaction or observation, nothing works or exists. It takes a while to figure some of them out, but when you do, you feel smart the hallmark of a great puzzler. But the brainy concept is let down by a bizarre narration that runs alongside the action.

Apparently based on Rik Mayall but sounding like an smug Stephen Merchant, the voiceover is constantly, irritatingly monologuing about how he's a god and what this means. It adds little that couldn't be told through the environment.

Sometimes the musings interrupt an audio-based puzzle, or continue to jabber about a piece of scenery you passed a while back. It's a shame the developer felt the need to insert such an clumsily overt bid for intelligence in an otherwise smart take on the genre.

A clever puzzle game with a charming, if unsettling concept, Pneuma is let down by its waffling and insistence on shoving questions about the nature of reality down your throat.

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