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Pneuma: Breath of Life Review


Pneuma: Breath of Life is a first person puzzle game that requires players to think outside the box in order to solve the games puzzles. 


Developer: Deco Digital & Bevel Studios
Publisher: Deco Digital
Genre: Puzzle
Format: Playstation 4
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
Copy provided by publisher
Take a breath..

Let me start by getting the bad out of the way.

Pneuma: Breath of Life is too short. It takes about 2-3 hours to beat and once you know the solutions to the games puzzles, subsequent playthroughs take less than an hour. There isn't much replay value here. The only other problem I had during my time with the game was the chattiness of the main character Pneuma. Now don't get me wrong, Pneuma has to talk. The entire story of the game is told through his narration and without it, the game would just be walking around solving puzzles in between. And that would be pretty boring.

The problem for me is the amount in which he talks. At points he begins rambling so much that I tuned him out and I'm quite sure that is exactly why I feel like I missed the message of the game. Well, I'm pretty sure I did anyway. The game begins in the first moments of Pneumas creation, or consciousness, and he immediately begins to ponder his existence. Which is something that drew me into the story. That seems like it could go somewhere interesting but by the time I got to the end, the message I came away with was it's just a game. So yeah, I'm pretty sure I missed something. I will say that the voice acting is very well done though.


Now for the good.

Pneuma is a puzzler. So tuning out the story didn't get in the way of enjoying the game. It has puzzles that aren't frustratingly hard and uses a mechanic that I haven't experienced in a game until now. You manipulate the world around you simply by looking at it and through motion.

For example, one of the earlier puzzles requires you to align a bridge so you can cross a gap. This is done by finding the eye attached to the bridge, these eyes are everywhere and are pretty much how you interact with everything in the game, and staring at it while moving backwards until it's in position. As with most things in Pneuma, the bridge moves as you do as long as it's in eyesight so to keep the bridge in position, you need to break the line of sight to move forward. Avoiding eye contact is also an important part of solving some puzzles. You do have to interact with some things using a button press but most interactions happen through vision and motion. Being new to me, I thought this way of interacting with the game world was pretty cool.

The controls work well also. Not once did I feel like I was fighting with the controls except for on the parts that I was. But those parts are by design and I won't spoil them.


Pneuma is also a great looking game. One of the best looking games I've played on the current generation of consoles in fact. The Greco-Roman setting and all the marble and gold everywhere were a great choice for a game in which you stare at stuff this much. The environments are also pretty detailed. At times, I found myself looking at things that I would never notice in real life let alone a video game, like the mortar between the bricks of a wall or the design on some random bench. You can tell a lot went into the look of this game pretty early on and all that work paid off.


Conclusion

Even with the story being ruined for me by the constant chatter and the short length of the game, which is something I can overlook, I still think Pneuma: Breath of Life is worth a playthrough. The graphical quality and clever puzzles aren't something I've seen on consoles very often and that alone is enough for me to recommend it.

Summary:
+ Gorgeous environments
+ Great puzzles
+ Interesting game mechanic
- Too much talking

Score: 7.0/10 "Good" 

What I played: 3+ hours completing the game twice, finding all secrets and unlocking all trophies
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