I was sent Nocturnal as a review code. While I am very grateful for the opportunity, I will keep my review honest.
Nocturnal is a unique Metroidvania game with an interesting mechanic and a beautiful art style. You play as a soldier who returns after years at war to find his home afflicted by an evil darkness. As you investigate the cause, you will face off against the monsters that now inhabit the island, dodge deadly traps, and fight citizens afflicted by the darkness. Will your flame be strong enough to rid the land of this darkness, or will you fall victim to its inescapable allure?
What makes this game unique is its light and dark mechanic. You have learned to wield the flame as your own. Use it to light your way through the shadow, fight shadow monsters, solve puzzles, and even heal yourself. But beware, your flame isn’t permanent. If you don’t tend to your flame, it will go out. Stay in the dark too long, and the shadows will consume you.
Like any other Metroidvania game, you have to memorize enemy locations, attack patterns, and trap locations. What makes Nocturnal unique is that you also have to memorize fire sources. Your flame is on a timer. The only way to recharge it is by hitting lit torches. Torches are scattered throughout the levels, but not all of them are permanent. Some traps and monsters will snuff out your flame, leaving you helpless. I loved this mechanic because of how creative it is implemented, and how intense it makes certain moments of the game.
There is a story to this game, but you won’t need charts to keep it straight. I enjoyed the flavor it adds to the world, but I enjoyed the gameplay more. Even though I am bad at this game, I had a lot of fun with this game. The art is beautiful, the music is fantastic, and the puzzles were creative. The combat can feel a little repetitive at times, but I didn’t find it to be an issue. If you are a fan of the genre, Nocturnal needs to be in your library. If you have never played a game in this genre, this is a great place to start. If you are a veteran of the genre, there is a harder difficulty, permadeath, and some nifty speed run features you might want to check out.