Basking in pastel colours and a warm ambient soundtrack, Nova: Cloudwalker’s Tale looks like it is going to be a zen, relaxed puzzle about traversing clouds as you cross a mystical mountain range. However, behind this warm and inviting aesthetic is a trickier than expected puzzler that requires spatial awareness and forward planning.
There are four worlds in Nova: Cloudwalker’s Tale and each one has a variant of the same idea. Using clouds that you can move around as platforms between mountain blocks, you need to create paths to get to the end of each level. White fluffy clouds are totally moveable within your gift as long as it can fit into the spaces you want to move them into. Some need lining up to create cloud bridges. In each level there are star shards to collect and these open up additional levels but often require a trickier route or longer route to get the star and reach the exit.
This cloud moving game mechanic is then expanded on as you move into each world. Grey clouds are clouds that won’t move until you attack it like a Lego brick to your white clouds. Building your custom arranged clouds requires forward planning and spatial awareness because sometimes you need avoid the grey clouds and then connect them up later on the level. Later on ice clouds break after standing on them, creating one way collapsible clouds and fragile rocks do the same thing. Each world starts you off with a simple introduction before ramping up the difficulty and clearing levels without star shards means you’ll eventually reach a dead end and not be able to progress to the next world until you collect 20 of them. It is a mildly low bar considering the game has 128 and you need 60 to unlock the four worlds but it takes time and patience to get a lot of the shards and make it home.
I enjoyed the forward planning, logic and ways Nova: Cloudwalker’s Tale trips you up. The grey clouds especially caused me many head scratching moments and thankfully an undo and restart button are a click away. There is no hint system and whilst that’s not an automatic negative, I found that sometimes I was making some of the ugliest solutions to levels work and this felt like the wrong way to play. You can put two clouds next to each other and keep moving between them shuffling forward and this can help you clear the basics on some levels but this felt really fussy and elongated a solution. I chose to do it though so I could unlock a new level and maybe solve that whilst getting a star shard at the same time. This probably says more about my weak spatial planning skills than the game itself but if you can’t visualise a few steps ahead to combine things and move them around, you may find Nova a bit difficult. The only definite weakness the game has its story. Told in wordless form, you run through empty corridors or rooms with a carving or two on and it didn’t really hang together for me personally. Thankfully, the story is about 5 minutes of the games runtime so you won’t get bogged down in it.
Engaging, tricky and deceptively slippery – Nova: Cloudwalker’s Tale is warm inviting puzzle game that appears fluffy but will make your brain curdle if you aren’t a planner. That said, getting it right is very satisfying and you’ll feel like you are walking among the clouds you’ve just arranged.
Nova: Cloudwalker's Tale
Deceptively tricky puzzles that try to soothe your brain with pastel colours and an ambient soundtrack so you can ride the clouds to freedom.
Four different game mechanics explored across the four worlds keep things fresh.
Deceptively more tricky than it lets on - especially if you want to collect everything.
The ability to move onto other worlds when you've completed some of the levels helps open the game up a bit incase you get stuck.
Warm ambient soundtrack.
No hint system (although this might be a positive for some) means sometimes really inefficient solutions may drag your enjoyment down.
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