This game is… nuts?
Developer: Joon, Pol,
Muutsch, Char & Torfi
Release Date: 4 Feb, 2021
NUTS is an adventure game where you are tasked with the surveillance of a group of squirrels inhabiting the Melmoth forest. Said squirrels are the last bastion of defense against the evil plans of a corporation, which wants to destroy the forest in order to get terrain to build on. Being the squirrels an endangered specie, you are tasked with tracking them and get the proof needed to stop the forest’s destruction, but soon enough you’ll start to notice very strange behaviours…
Squirrel surveillance is not the easiest of tasks: the little creatures will in fact run around a lot before getting to their stashes and the fact that you can’t follow them by foot makes it harder. Coming to your aid are three different cameras and monitors, that you can position around the map and will record a whole night of squirrel movements. While the squirrels’ path will be the same each and every night, the fact that you only get three point of views makes it so you will need to repeatedly move the cameras around the find your objectives, which usually are the squirrels’ stashes. Initially, the game plays in small maps to makes you accustomed with the system, which offers an unique gameplay to say the least, increasing the size of the pieces of forest you’ll find yourself in when you’ll be accustomed with the game.
All in all, that’s the main gameplay loop in NUTS: move a camera, follow the squirrel until it goes out of sight, move the camera the next day to have a better view or to follow him. A gameplay loop that could become really boring really quickly. Luckily, the differentiation of the maps and the mistery behind the story will keep you playing through the whole game… which isn’t a whole lot of time! For the base price of 16.79€, I would’ve expected more than only two and a half hours of gameplay that hardly introduces many new mechanics to differentiate, making the game very pricey in my opinion.
A Different Story
NUTS repetitive gameplay loop is articulated by its story: you are a researcher sent to the Melmoth forest to study an endangered specie of squirrels, which could be the only thing between the forest and the plans of a corp to build Panorama, a project which would destroy the ecosystem. Each level of the game asks you to take photographs of the squirrels’ stashes, in order to confirm their presence in the area and thus stopping the construction plans. This seems very normal, until you find a stash that, between the heaps of nuts, has some dinamyte. From there the story gets more misterious and you’ll find yourself wondering about the squirrels’ behaviours more and more.
While the story starts off great, the ending is very lacking and (without making any spoilers) I really expected something more. In the end, a game like this should have an interesting story with an incredible ending, which is not the case here.
The first thing you’ll notice about NUTS isn’t its squirrel surveillance gameplay or its story, but its beautiful and rather strange graphical direction. Every level will in fact used two different color palettes, one for day time and one for night time, with every object having almost monochromatic textures, making for beautiful vistas even in simple environments. This also allow to recognize the squirrels among the vegetation, since they will always have colors that stand out from the environment, something that would’ve been hard to do with a more “realistic” approach to graphics.
Unfortunately, even the graphical compartment of NUTS isn’t without faults: in this case I have to signal a rather unstable framerate that moved between the 40 and 60 fps. Not really the best for a game with such simple graphics.
NUTS is a game with a really interesting art direction, interesting mechanics that could however have been expanded more and an overall lacking story, expecially in the ending. The low playtime with no replayability, when confronted with the asking price, makes me recommend this game only under a very heavy (75%) discount.