Son of Nor: Hands-on Preview – Playing in the Sand
I really was not sure how I would find Son of Nor. On the one hand, it seemed to be exactly my type of game with its awesome mix of superhuman abilities and fast paced third-person gameplay. On the other hand though, from videos and screenshots I had seen prior, it looked like a game that was still very clearly in early access stages. Unsurprisingly, Son of Nor turned out to be both of my expectations, but I am okay with that and here is why.
Son of Nor was a game on Kickstarter that was successfully funded in May of 2013, in all honesty, it slipped completely below my radar and so its release on Steam was the first time I took any real notice of the game. The game managed to rake in over $150,000, which would then shape the start of a really cool looking game set in the fictional desert world of Noshrac.
Upon starting up the game I came across several options, one of which surprised me greatly. You see, I had not looked into the game past its most basic concept, which was more than enough to intrigue me. Son of Nor contains multiplayer cooperative play, and though I have not played it yet, it makes me excited for the possibilities, considering all that was available in the few hours I have played through. Moving on though, story mode was to be my starting point and so I chose from one of five characters (in my case, Son of the Night), and after some changes to my attire and dye, I began my quest to save humanity. The story in Son of Nor is pretty deep, so I would recommend listening to the opening cutscene with no distractions if you hope to follow the narrative properly. In the most stripped down sense though, Son of Nor is about one man/woman who must defend humanity against a dangerous threat.
Noshrac itself and all of its inhabitants appear to take some heavy inspiration from Egyptian mythology, an area that, in my opinion does not receive enough love in the gaming scene. With Son of Nor being based in a desert world, players will come across a ton of sand which is so much more than a static part of the environment. Sand is a part of the game, and utilizing it becomes one of Son of Nor‘s greatest gameplay elements. Visually, Son of Nor is not the prettiest of games (though far from the ugliest either) but it does have strengths in other areas which were prominent enough to make me forget all about what I was seeing. These strengths allowed me to look further into the game and see that I was able to shape the beauty of the game myself, and that made me feel pretty damn powerful.
After I became acquainted with my new-found abilities of terraforming and telekinesis, I saw that moving things with my powerful mind was a fantastic factor, one that I knew would provide some excellent grounding for the game. You might remember a little console game called Fracture, some loved it some hated some just considered it “okay”, in truth it was far from a groundbreaking game (pun intended), but it did offer something new. Son of Nor very much feels like Fracture, but still manages to come across as new. If only the developers would put some focus on graphical finesse, then Son of Nor could well turn out to be an incredible game.
As I said, I played through a few hours of the early access game, and believe I have experienced an adequate amount of content, though I still feel it has a long way to go if it really does want to come out on top. Son of Nor is the perfect example of gameplay over looks, but I do not think this has to be the case, and so desperately want the developers to realize this. That said, the game is still in early stages and so its looks are subject to change at any moment. Animation wise however, things are mostly smooth. Some might be a little rough around the edges and enemies might occasionally bug out a little, but complex animations like jumping look great. I was expecting Skyrim style jumps, but instead was extremely pleased with the leaps performed.
Though it is a fairly linear game, Son of Nor does have some open areas of which players are able to explore and complete side quests, a welcome addition to say the least. The title could have been a brilliant open-world game after seeing the hub area, and it is kind of depressing to see it so straight forward in this regard. Counteracting the open-world however, are levels which vary in looks and style and so things rarely get boring or stale. Be they temples or outdoor environments, levels bounce off of one another perfectly and provide an addictive and exciting experience.
One final thing which I noticed was that actions have consequences, and killing an ally is something not tolerated. Though kind of sort of not accidental, it reminded me of picking a fight with someone in Fallout, expect the same kind of outcome. I am not entirely sure whether this feature is complete, however, from the experience I had I would hope it is not, since that would mean never being able to complete the game. Still, a quick reload put things back to normal and taught me a lesson in violence and consequence. It is great to see that the developers considered such destructive actions though, and I really do hope that what I had witnessed were foundations for something larger in this area of the game.
This preview was not supposed to come across as a full review, and so I did not encounter all the features available in the game, but all of the most basic ones. I also unlocked an ability giving me the power of wind which made for some interesting changes to combat. Son of Nor is very much a story focused game and so playing through it one part at a time in an early access state is something I struggle to advise, what is available though is great fun and difficult not to recommend. If you would like to take part in early access yourself, then Son of Nor can be yours for $19.99 right now. Be sure to keep a close eye out for more Son of Nor.
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