Play as Martin Holan, a linguistics and archeology student, who in an effort to help his uncle, takes on a seemingly simple task which ultimately hurdles him smack dab into the middle of a world filled with secret experiments, murder and intrigue.
As our story begins, Martin receives a call from his Uncle Francois. He wants Martin to investigate a recently discovered WWII German mine located in Bohemia. Francois needs to meet with Martin immediately. Hhmm….why the sudden urgency?
During the meeting with his Uncle, Martin learns of a German war project named NiBiRu which heralds the belief in a 12th planet inhabited by a highly evolved race whose technology could change civilization as we know it. Although long thought of as a myth, could it be possible that the Germans had found a way to harness that technology and that the NiBiRu project truly exists? Francois is quite vague and does not provide many details, but he is bubbling with excitement over newfound information proving that NiBiRu is most definitely not a myth. Time is of the essence. Martin needs to be on the Charles Bridge in Prague tonight! A meeting with a mysterious female contact named Barbora will provide all the insidious details.
To Martin’s surprise and dismay, Barbora is a no-show at the bridge but has hidden a note for Martin to find. She fears she is being followed. Martin should contact his uncle to obtain her home address. How could anyone know they were meeting tonight? The following gruesome discovery that Barbora has been murdered in her apartment sets off a whole new realm of objectives for Martin. Left in a bit of a tough spot, it’s up to Martin now to search out the secret information Barbora had planned to tell him, perhaps learn the identity of Barbora’s killer, discover the secrets in the mine and somehow manage to keep himself alive.
NiBiRu is a 3rd person adventure set against 2D backgrounds. Martin Holan is an enjoyable character with similarities to George Stobbart in the Broken Sword series minus the female sidekick. He’s a good looking, intelligent guy with a quick sarcastic wit. Voice acting is well done here. What’s interesting about Martin is that throughout the game, we get to hear what he’s thinking; good and bad. It gives us a little more insight into his personality.
Getting around is simple for the most part. Directional cursors are provided during game play to notify you of locations you can explore. The transitions from Prague to Bohemia and lastly to Mexico are automatic upon completion of all necessary tasks. Inventory is located at the bottom of the game screen and is easily accessed by running your cursor over it. The main menu, located at the top of the game screen, is accessed in the same way. The same cursor is used to examine, pick up and use items. Supposedly, the right mouse button is to be used for examining while the left for activating, picking up and using items. However, you will find as you play the game that this is not a consistent feature. Frequently, the right button seems to be inactive and the left button has to be used to examine items. It’s pretty much a hit or miss situation. Most likely you’ll get used to left clicking on hotspots first to test them out.
Conversation can be activated with a speech bubble appearing next to an NPC. While you are able to initiate a conversation, the rest is all done automatically. Although just listening to the conversation is a joy as the voice acting is done so well, it would have been nice to have the chance to participate in the conversation. In fact, this happens also when completing some tasks. The player participation is not as in depth as it should be which causes the game to be somewhat on the easier side when considering the difficulty level.
The puzzles, as with most adventure games are inventory and logic based. While they are limited towards the beginning of the game, NiBiRu manages to kick them up in volume and difficulty as you make progress. Most of the puzzles are quite easy and will not cause much stress. Most of your game play experience will involve figuring out how to open doors, desks, computers and strange boxes. There is one slider type puzzle that proves to be a bit more difficult as each of the pieces has a set direction in which they can be moved causing a headache or two. Truly, the one noteworthy puzzle involves marbles set within slots which are a part of 5 rings which can be rotated. Four slots contain 4 marbles, each of a different color. Your goal is to get each slot to have 4 marbles of the same color. The most difficult part is getting started. Once you get the basic idea, the puzzle can be completed without too much trouble.
What makes NiBiRu enjoyable are the beautiful backgrounds. The best part of adventure games is that they take you to new places. When you read a book, you only get to imagine far away locations. Here, you get to see an artist’s rendition of a location and perhaps for a couple of hours, wonder what it would be like to be there. Or, maybe you have been there and get a chance to revisit some memories. If you’re fascinated by ancient ruins, forgotten war mines, and secret chambers, then you will be delighted to get a chance to wander through them as you search for answers.
Each location is incredibly detailed. As you enter the archives room of a long abandoned mine, the signs indicate there was a hasty exit made by the former Nazi inhabitants. Overturned chairs, dirty dishes on the table, logbooks, a ham radio, a 3rd Reich flag faded and torn hanging on the wall all work together to immerse you in the environment.
Imagine the site of a ruin where the light streams in from the outside, highlighting stone walls and statues that were intricately carved by hand and hold the secrets to unlocking the past. NiBiRu provides plenty of visuals to make your eyes dance.
NiBiRu is not a game boasting a glorious soundtrack. In fact, there really isn’t much music at all. Where NiBiRu excels is in its ambient sounds. As Martin walks down the steps underneath the ruin, you can hear the echo of his footsteps. In France, as Martin stands in front of the hotel, you can hear the rolling of waves even though you can not see the docks from where you are. In Mexico, the sounds of the wildlife are considerably different than Prague or France. They could have just used the same sounds, but they chose to give us authentic variety.
While NiBiRu may not be the most difficult game you will encounter and will leave you with some questions about the story at the end, it still is a wonderful bug free game that will take you away from your normal lives for a few hours.
Final Grade: 85/100