Minimalist abstract designs need to be simple for people to understand quickly what’s going on. The simple design is meant to complement the (sometimes deceptively) simple game mechanics. Nanuleu gets this spot on with a beautifully simple to understand, absolutely hard to master Real-Time Strategy / Tower Defence game that made its way to PC at the end of last year.
Taking nature down to its root and creating a battleground, you plot out roots from a tree of life. Each extra tree you plant costs you resources. Some of those trees replenish resources like water or minerals, whereas some act as defence trees or attack trees to help defend all the land you have. After a while enemies arrive and start to attack your land – infecting trees and spreading rot across the land. You are very quickly sent into a resource management dilemma of growth versus defence versus attack.
What Nanuleu does well, is to show you the basic mechanics of the game. The main key is that like veins and roots, all your working trees need to be connected to the source tree to work. Knowing this helps plan how you’ll spread. After that though, the difficulty rises sharply and quickly as each of the maps will either start with enemies arriving quickly or straight away. That then leads you to making tough decisions and a fair bit of replayability as you decide which way works best as you’ll take a few goes at each level to finish it. It’s just as well the music and visuals are designed to relax you then as the ambient melodies are lovely and the graphics seamlessly zoom in and out to show a minimalist but smooth graphical flair.
The downside is that there are only 7 levels currently at the time of writing. There’s a time attack achievement for each level alongside just beating it but it’s not nearly enough variety. The difficulty rises so sharply that you’ll be playing on the opening three maps quite often to understand the mechanics before being successful elsewhere and that will prove frustrating. If more levels, maps and occasionally a few more enemy types were added then this would be in an instant recommendation. There is also the big oversight of a lack of an upgrade system. A tree has one function and goes at a consistent rate. It’s simple but it also keeps all strategy simple too and takes away an element of tactical design of your defences.
I have enjoyed my time with Nanuleu and recommend it if you know you'll get fun out of the minimal design, strategy and game mechanics to understand. Sadly though - be aware it also comes with minimal content.
Simple to understand but hard to master.
A great entry level RTS game that doesn't bog you down with tons of mechanics.
Zen visual design and streamlined game mechanics create a coherent experience.
Not enough maps.
Difficulty curve ramps up half way through quite considerably.
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