by Murray Lewis
previewed on PC
HUMANITY NEEDS YOUR HELP
Son of Nor is a third-person action-adventure from Austrian developers stillalive studios. The player is cast into the role of a mystical ‘Son of Nor’ (no daughters to be found, sorry), and tasked with protecting the last of Humanity against a barbaric reptilian threat.
With an array of awesome matter-manipulating powers at their disposal, the game certainly has a cool concept – but how is it shaping up now that it’s available on Steam Early Access?
A ‘FORCE’ BY ANY OTHER NAME...
Gameplay in Son of Nor is based on mastering the player’s magical abilities – telekinesis, terraforming, and elemental magic – and combining them both in and out of combat. Since the game takes place in a desert, reminiscent of Uncharted 2, the majority of the powers focus on manipulating the abundant rocks and sand, but there’s plenty to pick up regardless.
The most commonly used power is your basic, common-or-garden telekinesis. This allows you to grab rocks, boulders, crystals, and other harmless bits of the environment; generally to make them rather less harmless towards your enemies. A simple click will send the object hurtling towards wherever you are facing, dealing some serious damage to anything it hits along the way. It’s also possible to simply drop things onto unsuspecting enemies below – laying an ambush in this manner is great fun.
An even more cunning use of the power is to freeze a levitating object in mid-air, and then use it as a makeshift platform for crossing gaps or climbing. The variety offered by this power is a real testament to the kind of gameplay that Son of Nor can offer.
Another power you are introduced to very quickly is terraforming, which allows you to raise and lower areas of loose sand, which works in a similar manner to terrain editing in games like The Sims. This means you can raise temporary defences against attack, build ramps to access ledges, or tunnel underneath obstacles. It has the potential to look and feel quite spectacular but, in the build I played, the physics involved here didn’t feel quite right. Walking on raised sand, in particular, felt more like sliding over icy rocks. The graphics, too, still feel rough around the edges, with texture stretching and angular polygons rearing their ugly heads frequently.
Finally, later on in the game, you unlock elemental powers such as wind and fire. These consist of a basic, but formidable, channelling of the element – a gust of wind, or a surge of fire, for example – as well as the ability to imbue objects with an element. In practice, this could mean pulling a chunk of rock out of a nearby cliff face, engulfing it in flames, and then hurling it at an enemy for a satisfying explosion. As always, though, it’s not just about combat; Son of Nor will require you to use and combine all of your powers to solve some pretty intriguing puzzles.
Between the mysterious powers, third-person view, and desert setting, it all shapes up to be extremely familiar to anyone who’s played a Jedi Knight game– which should be considered high praise indeed for such an early version.