Point and click adventures games seem to be a genre that comes and goes in popularity. There will be a drought, then a resurgence, before the next drought seems to kick in. It has been a while since I last played a really good one, so when I saw Nairi: Tower of Shirin get released, I had to check it out.
Nairi: Tower of Shirin kicks in with Nairi reading a history book as she is nodding off. Suddenly a racoon, her tutor, barges in telling her to escape. She winds up trying to be smuggled out of town in a crate when she is captured by bandits, and her interesting story kicks off.
The most interesting thing about Nairi’s story is the world she discovers below the one she knew. She was sheltered in a well-off family, so wasn’t quite exposed to the way the world is for many others, and as she has to get out of her predicament, she learns a lot about the magical world, and the lives of people in different socio-economic demographics.
With a visual novel, the text itself is so very important. Especially because the game doesn’t have voice acting, which would have helped a lot, but the text itself was easily good enough. I really enjoyed the story that tackles serious subject matter, but in a light hearted and casual way. The game does have some average music and sound effects, so it is a totally fine game to play without your ear phones on, but with a story like this you do need to pay attention.
Something that isn’t new, but I haven’t seen too much in point and click adventure games recently is that you don’t see Nairi when exploring. She appears when there is dialogue because character models pop up to show dialogue occurring, but when pointing and licking it is from a first-person perspective. I prefer making my characters walk uncomfortably around a static screen in this kind of game, but to be fair it has minimal impact on gameplay not doing so.
The biggest winner the game has, and what drew me to it in the first place is the aesthetic. The characters are an array of species of animals and humans, and they look absolutely gorgeous. Beautifully designed and animated with a Ghibli style, and just grainy enough to look stunning, if you are going to spend a few hours staring at a fairly static game, you want it to look this good.
The game can use the Joy-Cons, which is the perfect fit for a point and click adventure game, because it lets you point and click. The pointing wasn’t always perfect with the Joy-Cons which created some unnecessary frustrations, which occasionally made me prefer to return to handheld mode, but in handheld mode some details got a bit small in certain puzzles which was annoying.
Nairi: Tower of Shirin isn’t a perfect game, but it is a short and very enjoyable experience. An interesting story, with interesting gameplay that tests the genre and how it can work with the Switch’s hardware is well worthwhile, and boy is it pretty.
Released: November 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Another Indie
Publisher: Home Bear Studios