Nebulous (XB1) Review

Space madness.

While on a space walk outside his shuttle, Commander Dash Johnson is sucked into a wormhole and transported to far-out space. In Nebulous, a physics-based puzzle game, the player is tasked with assisting this a-hole of an astronaut into successive wormholes – with the goal of getting him home.

Nebulous has a unique level presentation and literal perspective. Imagine being on the inside of a cube and each side is a part of the level. Johnson can transfer sides by hitting smaller, color-coded wormholes to maneuver around the level. Some objects can’t be moved and others are movable to get him to where he needs to go. Gravity can also run in different directions depending on the side of the cube.

Platform: Xbox One, PS4
Price: $14.99
Price I’d pay: $5

The number of sides and overall complexity of levels predictably ramps up with time. The spike in difficulty and spending 20+ min on a level initially left me overwhelmed and frustrated, but in time, I learned how to tackle the puzzles. It mostly required compartmentalizing the sides and experimenting to see where things go wrong. The complexity in levels also allowed for more creativity and freedom in some surprising ways.

Since completing the levels is so dependent on trial and error, the decision for the game to have a generic “three-star system” is a curious one – especially when they have no effect on opening up more levels. In each level, three stars can be acquired; one for limiting attempts, one for limiting the time taken to complete, and one for Johnson hitting all of the stars in the level, which are sometimes quite out of the way.

Collecting all of the stars in a level makes sense for those who want even more of a challenge, but the other two didn’t make sense to me. Even if I memorized where everything should go, one fickle gravity orb that’s not in the perfect location could ruin everything, making it more trouble than it’s worth.

The game avoids being painfully bland due to Johnson’s banter and frequent insults to the player. While I found a lot of what he said to be annoying, it at least gave me something to react to in the black void of space. Also, since I hated commander Johnson so much, it was nice to hear his comical screams and wails as he’s launched around the levels.

The only consistent visual issue with the game is a Screen tearing ‘effect’ on the border of the levels. On just a few occasions pieces would glitch out of the level while I tried to maneuver them around and through other objects, which in of itself, is bothersome at times.

Nebulous is a challenging puzzle game that allows for creativity and freedom in completing the levels. There are aspects of the game that are unnecessary and there are a few polish issues, but what remains is a game with more than one unique idea.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Challenging
  • Allows creativity
  • Personality
  • Screen tearing effect
  • Largely useless star system
Written by
Wyatt is a recent college graduate of Ohio University’s Journalism program. He’s an Xbox guy, but loves playing great PlayStation exclusives. Also, he has far too much nostalgia for the old Nintendo.