Nairi: The Tower of Shinrin is a surprisingly thoughtful and clever game that utilizes complex and creative puzzles to continue a deep and lively plot.
Let me begin by stating that Graphic Adventure games are not normally my game of choice. When I was offered the opportunity to play Nairi however, I was immediately drawn in by the artwork and had to give it a shot. My only fear before ever playing Nairi was that this would be another on-the-rails adventure that I’ve come to expect from some other Graphic Adventure games. Fortunately, I was very mistaken.
I expected to be able to finish Nairi in a long afternoon but, after playing the game for several hours, three things became very apparent: (1) I am horrible at solving puzzles that involve investigation and creative application of resources, (2) The artwork in this game is even better than I expected, and (3) this games will take me much longer to finish than I expected, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
The puzzles and investigation in the game are where players will have the most influence on the game itself, but I believe that the best characteristic of Nairi is the way that it seems to make every character interesting, either through exciting character introductions and meaningful character development, or the way extra NPCs (who normally serve no real purpose) will provide the player with information about the world of Nairi and hints as to where the player might discover something of interest. Everyone in the story seems to serve a purpose and has an opportunity to lead the player to new paths, information, or opportunities. Puzzles in this game also take on various shapes and forms. Some are traditional puzzles, requiring the player to put things together, while other puzzles involve trading and bartering with NPCs in a way that produces the desired result.
The greatest experience in the game however is when it all comes together. When your puzzle is finally completed, and the setting is filled with the right amount of character development and story build up, and then you’re hit with a beautiful cut scene. The cut scenes I experienced were used fill in the blanks of the story that the player couldn’t play themselves, and the were designed in such a way that it felt like a reward. These moments included experiencing the past of other characters in the story after investigating them, or to narrate a time skip within the plot after reaching a milestone in the story. The story is the reason most player will aim to finish Nairi, and these cut scenes provide a short cinematic experience to reward player investment.
As much as I enjoyed the puzzles in Nairi, many times, these puzzles can be frustrating. Some puzzles and directions are not clear in what you need to do, and require the player to really apply themselves to find a solution. Sometimes the player is tasked to just “figure it out”, and so some moments you’ll find your self just spamming items against anything and everything to see what happens. Other times the player will be forced to tread back through old areas to over and over again to continue the story. I’d be lying if I said that this game wasn’t frustrating at times, but it’s the same lack of hand-holding that is exactly what makes these puzzles so challenging and worthwhile. There is a hint system in the game, but it strictly consists of sketches and drawings of objects, places, or people that the player should consider to solve the current situation. What I’ve found to be most helpful is to utilize the in-game conversation collection gallery to relive significant conversations from the story for clues on what to do next.
Nairi Tower of Shinrin is an incredible game that I found myself wanting to continue hour after hour because I wanted to find out what was next, and solve the various Mysteries that were unfolding before me. it’s a game without its faults though. My largest complaint about the game however, is the vast amount of back tracking I had to do. I believe that the purpose of back tracking is to give the player the opportunity to catch something new at each new scene, but in the case that I new where I wanted to go and just wanted to get there, it was torture at times to sit through each loading screen just to instantly click on the path I wanted, and then wait on the next scene to load. With that said, I still enjoyed my time playing Nairi, and I believe that the 10 loading screens it took to trudge from point A to point B are absolutely worth the opportunity to continue the game.
Nairi: Tower of Shinrin is a fantastic game that I would recommend to anyone who appreciates solving puzzles and experiencing a story of magic and mystery. You can find the game on both Steam and Nintendo Switch for $10.