Nogalious advertises itself as a retro-style video game made as a homage to classic 2D gaming, with a rich storyline and puzzles galore. I wish any of things had been enacted. The game begins with a tutorial that’s half-baked and hard to understand (partially because the grammar and spelling of the old man speaking is absolutely atrocious), and then throws you into the first level without first explaining any of the things that will kill you, or the fact that if you die too many times, GAME OVER. And this isn’t just for the level, this for the whole game.
The beta build we were given only has access to the first level and the beginning of the second level, a;; which led up to a comically bad boss fight. Die too many times, and end up frustrated at the beginning of the first level again. Most of those deaths can be attributed simply to the janky way the character moves; if you want to jump, be prepared to have the animation reset halfway-through pressing the button, which means you sometimes run right off the cliff and straight into the deadly waters below.
None of this is soothed by the game’s garish visuals, which may be the developers homage to the 8-bit glory days, but are riddled with erratic framerates (!) and ugly backgrounds, making it extremely hard to gaze at for long periods of time. When your game’s pixels make it hard to figure out what you can stand on and what you cannot, it’s a fail.
The game offers power-ups, but their function is often unclear: at one point we’re given a cloak which makes our character half-invisible, but it didn’t seem to affect anything at all. The UI is a mess, enemies are too fast compared to the main character’s speed, and nothing feels balanced. An argument could be made that this game is only for hardcore players, but then why does it feel so sloppy?
Apparently, Nogalious is the first game in a planned trilogy, which sounds baffling. Despite the obvious nod to hardcore gamers and nostalgia fans there’s nothing here that would merit wanting more of what the game’s offering, and even that’s being generous. This is an ugly, pixelated train wreck that I’d almost recommend based on its terrible qualities alone. Almost. Hard pass.