Review: Son of Nor (PC) – A Place Where Sand is the Best Feature

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Review by Dustin Murphy

SoN_Blue glow3


Pros:
+Minimal system requirements for people with gaming laptops
+A rather well blended use of music as well as atmospheric sound effects
+Easy to use controls with either mouse and keyboard or a controller (Xbox is default controller)
+Minimalist graphics that provide a decent use of graphics for an indie game
+Online co-op is fun, unique, and may cause players to prefer co-op over solo
+VR Support is astounding in the options menus

Cons:
-Rough performance with hardly any video options to optimize gameplay for a user’s rig
-Looks extremely bad outside of 1080p
-Few minor bugs when loading up from a checkpoint that may require players to restart a level
-Enemies don’t always like to take damage as needed without charging up items with elements
-Four hours of gameplay and still a bit boring due to a lack of encounters or scenarios


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When I first was sent this review code for a successful Kickstarter game I was confused to what this game was. Why? I’d never heard of it. Had I at a time? I may have been as excited for it as I could have been, but after spending the 20 minutes to download the 2.5gb game, I found myself cringing after almost four hours of gameplay, but before I do, lets talk about what Son of Nor is. The game was made as a far from a AAA title that you would know, how? It was successfully launched by 2,2244 backers who pledged a grand sum of 151, 175 USD. A large bit of that, but the question that’s going to come out of it? A game that combines both action and puzzles to create a game that may get a few people interested in it. For some like myself? It’s a cringe worthy experience that begun to bore me within a few hours when playing on the Single Player company.

When first experiencing Son of Nor, players learn about the history of the Son of Nor, a mage that has been brought to the lands of Noshrac’s desert in order to attempt to keep humanity alive after The Great War, which nearly wiped them out. Their enemy? The Sarahul, a vicious lizard-like race that is hellbent on enslaving and well, killing humans while driving them to the brink of extinction, but thanks to you, there’s a fighting chance. Flash forward to our current time, 400 years after The Great War, and you learn that your village has been Sarahul-free and clear. Unfortunately, not as clear as the villagers had thought since the Sarahul have tracked down the humans and are now hellbent on wiping out the last bit of the human conclaves in order to finish their original mission. Now that the village has been located, it is up to the character you create to save the day, and push the Sarahul back. How do you fight back? Telekinesis and powering it up by obtaining elements that will increase your damage, buff your capabilities, and well, let you wipe out the enemy forces. Your elements to learn? Wind, Fire, and Spirit, and in that exact order at that. Even with the elements, players will find themselves constantly going back to Telekinesis (Mind) in order to push the enemy forces back and settle the score.

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While using the telekinesis, players will find themselves terraforming sand. If this sounds familiar, it should, Lucas Arts tried this with that nightmare of a game we know as “Fracture”, and oddly, this game did it better, but the issue is? That’s the main feature that fans will be picking up on as they pick up rocks, sticks, enemy bodies, enemy weapons, or even enemy shields as they prepare to exterminate the enemies with their equipped elements. This, however, is where the game begins to lose its interest in the time I spent with it and as I said above, a solid 4 hours before I found myself wanting to plow my head through a wall. So what went wrong?

When playing Son of Nor, it’s not hard to see that the team tried to be innovative and allow for a new experience, and this is something they managed to do, but in a poorly executed way. Why do I say this? Combat is simple. Pick up items, charge items with elements, lob them at enemies until they die or use your elements to obliterate them. The issue? Well, gravity is where it normally pays off unless using nearby pits, campfires, or well, big and mean interactive terrain pieces, which there aren’t many of. This is where combat is rough, boring, and dull since the game is not focused on combat, but instead, leads players to explore the areas around them in order to find hidden secrets. This is one part where the game does not shine the best at all, but instead puts a dull carving in the sand just to show you where most of the attention was put outside of voice acting and attempts at giving that feel of the PlayStation 2 golden age.

What Son of Nor does accomplish and does well is the puzzles. This is where the game actually shines the brightest as players will find themselves trekking through temples for each of the elements in order to obtain each of them, but also providing players puzzles to complete as they adventure on through the games open world, but one thing remains constant, and does need fixed in the overall duration of the games life; repetition is an ultimate weakness to this game. There were moments where players will find themselves scratching their heads together in co-op or by themselves as they adventure on through single player. Fortunately in this game, powers do play a role in completing puzzles through the various ruins as well as hunting down each of the games secrets. In some puzzles the players who decide to endeavor into this game, will find themselves trekking through waterfalls and sand walls by using boulders to block the flow blocking their way, and thus finding secret carrots or even pieces of the games lore through collectibles. 

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Though a underlying problem with the game isn’t even necessarily the game itself, but instead of the settings when it comesto graphics. Unfortunately, Son of Nor does not offer for players to choose how much they want in certain elements such as particle acceleration, shadows, lighting effects, frame rate lock, v-sync toggle, or anything of the sort. Instead the game is locked between choosing from low, medium, high, and maximum. The difference? Overall texturing of the game when it comes to particles, model texture, lighting, terrain depth, and even the shadows. The downside? It takes away from the overall appeal to gamers who would love to have a chance to toggle certain portions of the game itself while undertaking their exploring a very confusing set of side quests, main story, and even overall appeal. While Son of Nor is in a very early state, there are many things this game could do to make itself a genre defining title that can prove that it has what it takes to match up to its Kickstarter goals. Till then? Son of Nor will remind you of why some games may find themselves enjoying it, the game does suffer from those minor setback, but those willing to trudge through them will find a game that is creative it does lack in the reasonable mindset of duration and even having a fully rounded story line.


 /-/ Conclusion /-/


Even with the four and a half hours, almost five into it, the game is was overall punishingly difficult for me to truly enjoy since I had no true grasp of why these people wanted my character around, what their relation to him/her was, and why they felt the need for the characters help in order to complete the tasks at hand besides the fact our character is the Son of Nor (or the Daughter since female characters are playable). Hopefully this is something that is fixed in later content or a game update at a future date. Till then? This game has a long ways to go in order to be where it needs to be and that is a distance I’m willing to wait for as long as the game truly can lure me in with new content, graphics options, and even more underlying back story.


This version of the game is based upon a a Release Version of the game. Our copy was provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here. Son of Nor is now available on Steam for Windows PC. Due to the game consistently getting updates, this review will be considered as in-progress as we may revisit it at a later date.


 Final Score: 6 out of 10


About the Writer:

DustinBATGRPhoto1Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him on Twitter @GamingAnomaly,Google+ or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

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