NAIRI: Tower of Shirin; A puzzler with all the personality

Developer: HomeBearStudio

Publisher: Hound Picked Games

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC

Release Date: 29 November, 2018

NAIRI: Tower of Shirin is an adorable puzzle adventure wherein you play as Nairi, a girl from the upper class who suddenly finds herself among the commoners. The narrative starts out as a mission to get Nairi back home, but the mystery behind the Tower of Shirin adds another fascinating objective. Along the way, Nairi meets fascinating characters and solves brain-teasing puzzles.

“The art style of the game is charming and beautiful, beckoning comparisons to Studio Ghibli and Avatar the Last Airbender.”

The art style of the game is charming and beautiful, beckoning comparisons to Studio Ghibli and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Although Nairi is a human girl, the society around her is brimming with animal characters, from cats to ducks to alligators and much more. These characters, along with Nairi’s own dialogue, give the game a memorable personality. There are laugh-out-loud moments within character interactions, a pleasant surprise in this graphic adventure.

The puzzles are challenging and rewarding, however the point-and-click system can be easily manipulated. On the Nintendo Switch, for example, using the joy-cons to explore the screen means that every item that can be interacted with changes the cursor. This removes the fun of guessing what is important or helpful in a given room. Thankfully, there is an option to use touch screen controls, and I highly recommend this. It feels like playing a very high quality and immersive game on a tablet.

The only other criticism I have about the game is that the puzzles do experience a large gap in difficulty. The puzzles within the first half of the game, although sometimes time consuming, were relatively easy. Suddenly there is a segment of the game in which the player finds themselves lost in an area where many different puzzles interact, and being stuck on one means no progression in the story. I do love challenges within puzzles, so I was able to persevere and eventually beat the game, but I can imagine that this would be frustrating for those with less patience.

The narrative is unique and intriguing, so much so that I was mildly disappointed to find that the game ends on a cliffhanger. However, this initial chapter was incredibly promising, and helps to create excitement for the next instalment.

In a nutshell: An incredibly charming yet challenging game with a beautiful design and story.