I was sold on the concept since the initial reveal of Terrifying Jellyfish’s Nour: Play With Your Food. Not because I play with my food but because the experience offered was light and a departure from the most prominent video games available today. In today’s landscape, food has transcended into an art form where artists can enact their wildest creations with a mix of sugar and flour or meat and potatoes. While you will most certainly be making sculptures with food, there is a fun sense of excitement when playing with food.
Nour throws the rulebook out the window regarding traditional gaming objectives. It’s more of a digital playground than a structured game, and that’s where the magic happens. With over twenty vignettes of different foods to explore, Nour invites you to let loose and get creative. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about having fun and making a mess. Think of it as a digital feast for your eyes and imagination.
Nour — Feast For The Senses
Before you even start playing with your food, Nour tantalizes your senses with its stunning visuals. Each meal is a work of art, meticulously crafted to look delicious. Burgers are juicy and tempting, and pastries and donuts are so lifelike that you might try to grab one from the screen. But remember, Nour encourages you to embrace chaos. When you’re done, what starts as a perfectly composed meal can turn into a delightful food tornado.
Nour gives you various ways to interact with each meal. You can use kitchen accessories, experiment with food colouring, or even wield magic spells to make your culinary creations dance. While there are no clear objectives, secrets are waiting to be unlocked. Specific actions within each vignette can lead to new areas to explore or attract unique visitors. It’s a testament to the developers’ creativity that they’ve hidden these secrets for players to discover.
Music to Your Ears? Not Quite.
One intriguing aspect of Nour is its music creation mechanic. You can assign sounds to ingredients, creating a musical composition as you play. The idea is brilliant, adding an extra layer of creativity to each vignette. For example, adding different ingredients creates unique background music when making ramen. However, the execution falls short. Timing your food drops to the beat is challenging due to lag, and the soundtrack often overpowers your actions. It feels like you’re playing with pots and pans while the game insists on taking over the kitchen.
Besides making music, you can explore various chef’s tools in each vignette. Cutting objects into satisfying slices, playing with food colouring, or wielding a blowtorch to melt things—Nour‘s physics mechanics are a delightful playground. The development team deserves praise for their thoughtful design, allowing you to stack effects and use multiple tools on a single item. However, some effects don’t work as expected, and the controls can be inconsistent between levels.
In Nour, no strict rules or tutorials are holding your hand. Instead, it hands you the reins and lets you decide how to interact with each vignette. It’s gaming without the pressure, where you can explore and experiment to your heart’s content. Whether you prefer orderly arrangements or chaotic food flinging, Nour welcomes your unique approach.
The UI doesn’t always play nicely, adding a touch of messiness to the experience—inconsistencies in camera angle may cause some confusion. Imagine trying to cook a complicated recipe with missing steps—it can be frustrating.
The Quest for Motivation
Nour explicitly states that it lacks traditional objectives, instead encouraging exploration. While freedom can be liberating, it leaves some levels feeling aimless. The game could benefit from more apparent motives to drive player actions. Stronger-level design is seen in vignettes with interactive components, offering more satisfying interactions than those centred solely on food.
After you’ve played through the vignettes, Nour shares some post-game insights, including the appearance of a cute, hungry jellyfish in each level. However, these hints are far from straightforward, leaving you wondering what more the game offers.
Nour introduces a unique musical mechanic, where you assign sounds to ingredients to create a delightful composition. However, this promising idea falls short due to messy audio mixing and gameplay design. It’s like trying to play a beautiful melody with instruments that are out of tune.
While Nour: Play with Your Food is a short experience, it has much potential. The simple concept of playing with food is something we’ve all done as kids, and yet, very few games, if any, have interactively approached the idea. Its unique title creates an engaging assortment of physics-based interactions sprinkled with stunning design compositions and aesthetic delights.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
While Nour: Play with Your Food is a short experience, it has much potential. The simple concept of playing with food is something we’ve all done as kids, and yet, very few games, if any, have interactively approached the idea.