A mind is a terrible thing to waste! Naturally, this means you should be putting it to work as a horrific weapon of war. I do, for instance. My game reviews are actually memetic kill switches designed to assassinate high value targets who, uh, want to read about the Mortal Kombat X mobile game. That leads us to Son of Nor, which takes a different approach to the idea of mental warfare by focusing on telekinesis, and it’s probably a bit more effective.
In many ways Son of Nor feels a bit like a refuge from the middle era of the PS2. Some of you might remember this era: it was a time when textures were muddy, animations were stiff and everyone wanted to make a game about physics. We can probably thank Half-Life 2 for that one. The poster child of this era was Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, a surprisingly entertaining third-person shooter that was largely about throwing people around with telekinesis.
Son of Nor is basically Psi-Ops In The Desert Without Guns ™. Your powers as one of the titular Sons revolve around using telekinesis to smash stuff into people, smash people into stuff, smash stuff into stuff and smash people into people. Maybe not in that order, but you get the idea. Lots of smashing. Some puzzle-solving too, largely involving moving stuff around to make bridges or hit switches.
You’ve got a couple other tricks as well – there’s plenty of sand around, for instance, and you can telekinetically raise and lower this sand to create cover or traps. This works a lot like the PS3 bomb Fracture. Finally, you get elemental magic boosts, allowing you to charge up all the crap and people you’re throwing around. This works a lot like…uh, Psi-Ops again, I guess, or maybe Soul Reaver 2.
Notice how I keep comparing Son of Nor to other games? That’s because it doesn’t have a lot of original ideas. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself – hell, the entire indie games scene practically runs on other people’s ideas – but it means that the big unique selling point for Son of Nor is…wait for it…peripherals. Lots and lots of peripherals.
Yes, you heard right: Son of Nor is a game about plugging in whatever ungodly expensive crap you’ve got that no other game is compatible with and finally, FINALLY using it. You’ve got an Oculus Rift? Plug it in, let’s go. Got a SteelSeries Sentry eye tracker? Cool, I don’t, but it’ll work. Got an Emotiv EPOC brain-computer interface? Uh, that sounds weird, where did you get that from? Do you have to implant it? Whatever it is, it’ll work, so plug it in.
No word on whether all this junk works simultaneously, but that sounds awesome. And, naturally, I don’t own any of those things so I can’t comment on how well it works, but if any of those companies would like to send over review materials I’ll gladly try them out! C’mon guys. Chop chop.
As for how the game looks and sounds, uh, it looks and sounds kind of like crap. We can bring up the Psi-Ops comparison again because the graphics are about on the same level. That came out in 2004. Yeah. So don’t come in expecting your mind to be blown and you’ll probably be fine…unless you’re wearing that brain-computer interface thing and it fries your brain or something, in which case your mind will be blown. Try not to leak head-juice on the carpet.
Still, there’s something about telekinesis that continues to be appealing, particularly your signature power of grabbing everything grabbable in an area and flinging it in a maelstrom of destruction. Such simple pleasures are difficult to consciously screw up, so in this regard developer stillalive studios nails it. If you’re cool with the fact that there’s not much else to the game other than this then you’ll be cool with Son of Nor, particularly if you’ve got a friend to co-op with.