Despite only having played this game for 2 hours, writing a review of it that is less than 10 pages will be difficult. I usually dont like to do this, but there are so many thing going write and wrong for this game, Ive got to break it all up.
Graphics/Art Direction: The game looks fine, its graphics options are solid, and its use of light is phenominal. I understand and appreciate why it lacks color, and Ive got no problems with the game in terms of how it looks.
Level Design: This is where the problems begin. While the game does a great job of letting you scamper around HUGE structures, there are plenty of places in the game where what you have to do to advance is either unclear, poorly placed, or nonsensical. Also, while I appreciate the desolate look they're going for, the entire game could use a little more to make the environment look just the tiniest bit lived in. For people who say that would ♥♥♥♥ with the designer's vision; there are several rooms that are fully furnished and clearly designed to be lived in. Why cant we get a tiny bit more of that? Worse yet, the envionrment alternates between structures CLEARLY designed for human usage and traversal, and structures that are clearly not, with paths leading though both, with no real common sense defining the layout of the "city" (which appears to be what we're looking at). It goes several steps beyond abstract architecture. Also, for any who were wondering, there is no "story" or "plot" or background. Nothing is ever explained as far as I can tell, which is fine, but its just another thing to note. There are also multiple instances where they pull the old "all these rooms look alike and are chained together" gag, which gets old really fast, as well as some really poorly implemented non-euclidean elements that honestly come out of nowhere. This extends to easter eggs, many of which will force you to restart from your last save. I once got caught in a looping staircase that I couldnt get out of by going either direction, it took me a solid 10 minutes to realize that this was both not the way I was supposed to be going (there ARE several repetitive staircases in this game) and that I couldnt escape. WHY WOULD YOU HAVE SOMETHING LIKE THAT IN A GAME LIKE THIS?
Long story short; the level design is nausiating at times, but pretty to look at, and you will need to look up a walkthrough at least once.
Sound: This is probably the biggest failure of the game. Its sound design is like bad prog-rock; it almost seems designed to offend the sensibilities of those playing it. While sometimes it harmonizes with the game's atmosphere with long synth-horn sounds, a'la Bladerunner, most of the time its composed of random little background trills, clicks, whines, and other mechanical noise, which is a bit unnerving, but for the most part its just distracting.
Gameplay: NaissanceE is a first person platformer, so it has all the problems that come with that, especially since you cant see your feet. If you've played this kind of game before you know what Im talking about. On top of that, the distance you can fall and how much damage you take seems to change with the weather, with some 5ft drops putting you near death, and some 10ft drops getting landed with no problems at all. There is a sprint and sprint-jump mechanic which requires you to breathe with the bumpers (I played with a controller, sue me), but it doesnt really add anything to the game. For the most part you just look for new places to jump to, then move on. There are some fairly solid puzzles (I think I found 3 over the course of 2 hours), but they're not really anything to write home about. The game's biggest problem is that there appear to be rules that its not telling the player. For instance, there are a series of wind-tunnel areas in the game where you have to walk along the shaft of what seems to be some kind of windpower generator or something. Fine. At random, the game will just decide "♥♥♥♥ you" and push you back and kill you with a gust of wind. There is no text explaining WHY this happens, and no way of knowing WHEN it will happen, but it happens none the less. I suspect it has something to do with taking too long, but I cant be sure. Overall, unremarkable in the gameplay department.
Ive got so much more Id love to say about this game, because I sorta enjoy it, but I still feel the price is a ripoff. To boil everything down; its got nice environments that are sometimes intentionally annoying to navigate, the occasional puzzle, and horrible sound design, but for the most part its an unremarkable walking/jumping simulator. Just go play Mirror's Edge with your monitor's color settings turned down or something. I wouldnt recommend this game in a million years, or unless its price drops below $10.