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Nour: Play With Your Food – Review

Experimental game design deserves praise, especially when its abstract, or trying new ideas. So often we moan that the same types of games pop out with little to differentiate them. Nour: Play With Your Food certainly can’t be accused of that. It is a food playground, allowing you to explore how you interact with your food in a wild and absurb world. There is nothing standard about it.

Anyone with a sweet tooth – look at this and tell me you aren’t already sold!

Nour has around 20 different diorama like playgrounds, each exploring a different type of food. The face buttons and d-pad of your controller each trigger a different action. In the ice cream bathtub it might be dropping fruit or gummies from the sky, or showing sprinkles out of the shower. By holding L1/LB you can then use the same eight buttons again to trigger another eight actions. It is entirely up to you what you trigger and when and you can, to some degree, aim food so you can dress each sandbox playground how you like. Be aware though, that Nour’s world is bouncy, vibrant and squishy and so food will bounce, slip, flop and drizzle off the sides and so you’ll never quite get something exactly where you want it. Want exacting pizza topping orientations? You’ll struggle, but you can’t undo anything so you have to go with what you’ve got and make it work.

That said, Nour isn’t a really a decorative tool, its more a playground. Each level has its own tools like food dye to colour milk or broth, a blow torch to toast food or melt chocolate, a tenderiser for meat and so on. Whilst these are wildly fun to play with, the world’s rules are not consistent and so things you expect to melt don’t, or an egg doesn’t crack when hammered – it just looks a bit square. Again, experimentation is key here but it does feel like some things are missed or confused opportunities at times. It probably speaks to how much chaos and fun you can have in each level that these little things stand out because one level demands you pop corn kernels into popcorn but then other foods later don’t behave the same way.

You can spawn 16 food types per playground and make them as big or small as possible with the size gun. That’s not a quarter pounder!

The last element of Nour is enchanting food with magic. This whole part of the game involved triggering things to the beat of the background music and building up magic to cast spells. Some of them like the constellation effect are beautiful, as all the food in the level spins around like a solar system for you to pan your camera through. Gravity is a great one too as the whole level suddenly explodes like a slow motion moon landing. These are beautiful additions to the game, although the implementation of them and many of the other hidden elements of Nour lack any kind of proper tutorialisation. As a player, you stumble across things you didn’t know you could do and then wonder how you did them and whilst there is some initial fun in the discovery, I feel like I’m missing out on the full Nour experience as I’m not understanding some of the more subtle game mechanics. When a game is as experimental as Nour is, sometimes being more explicit with how the game works will pay off for the gamer and I feel like that’s the case here.

There are lots of hidden interactions across the game. I triggered this one but I’ve no idea how and that’s both a lovely discovery but also a bit annoying.

Graphically, this game is stunning. Vibrant, glossy, squishy and hunger inducing. Musically, the game is subtly great too and the hidden rhythm elements work well with the playful nature of the game. Each area feels distinct and unique and whilst you can’t have infinite things on screen, the play areas can be quite chaotic and full of quirky ideas and food aplenty. As a player, you just have to realise there is no real definitive end goal to work towards. Like many sandbox games, the fun is in what you do with the tools provided to you. Nour gives you a lot to play with and so that makes it an engrossing experience. You may have to wrestle the camera and controls a bit to get there, but its never dull or dreary.

Hats off to solo developer Terrifying Jellyfish for pulling off a visually arresting and genuinely unique gaming experience. I’ve had a lot of fun and will continue to return back to Nour: Play With Your Food for quick bouts of chaotic food play. Hopefully a few of the rough camera and control issues can be smoothed out a little to make the experience a bit more approachable but as avant garde games go, this is one of the most fun out there.

Nour: Play With Your Food
Final Thoughts
A vibrant and hunger inducing sandbox playground with plenty of tools to play with. You'll just need to wrestle with the camera and controls a bit to get the most out of it.
Genuinely unique experience and it can be wildly entertaining.
Looks stunning in some places.
Lots of hidden gameplay trinkets to find throughout the entire game.
As a creative sandbox tool, it is a success.
Controls sometimes ask your hands to be holding a lot of weird button combos that feel awkward and unnatural.
Camera requires a bit of wrestling at times to get a clear view of what you want to do next.
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