Nocturnal PS5 Review. Sunnyside Games brings old-school Prince of Persia gameplay into the modern age, but is that enough to create a successful spiritual successor? Read on to find out in PlayStation Universe’s Nocturnal Review for PS5.
Nocturnal Review (PS5) – Mist Opportunity
In a tumultuous sea of Metroidvania 2D action platformers, it’s quite nice to see a lone boat bobbing about that keeps a classic puzzle platformer style going. In all the hubbub about what Prince of Persia was and is yet to become, it’s clear that no recent one really comes close to that original 2D side-scroller.
Nocturnal carries the torch for those simpler times. Possibly to its detriment, but it fights for an admirable cause all the same. Its pared-back simplicity is both a gift and a curse.
Ardeshir is a Soldier of the Enduring Flame. He has been traveling the world for years, but now comes the time to return home to the isle of Nahran. When he arrives at his native island birthplace, he discovers something is a bit off. A mysterious fog has enveloped the island, and there appears to be no sign of the local population. Ardeshir brandishes his sword and rushes headlong into the mystery.
The structure of Nocturnal is largely inspired by classic Prince of Persia, but makes more than a few nods and winks towards modern Metroidvania titles such as Dead Cells as well. Fighting is almost secondary to puzzle-solving, yet both feature fairly heavily throughout Nocturnal’s brief five-hour playtime.
Nocturnal’s big hook is its use of fire in both combat and puzzling. Ardeshir will have to light torches on the island in order to illuminate murky areas and dissipate the sinister mist. Ardeshir’s sword can also be ignited briefly to carry the flame from place to place safely or indeed to lower the defenses of the foes who dwell in the mists. There’s an intensity brought on by the limited time Ardeshir’s blade will stay aflame as he travels through increasingly longer and larger distances the deeper into the mystery he delves.
Misty Mountain To Climb
Visually, Nocturnal holds the eye. From its silky movement animations to its gorgeous backdrops, the presentation in Nocturnal is highly impressive. It certainly goes a long way toward alleviating my issues with the game as a whole.
I don’t believe Nocturnal does anything particularly wrong. It just feels threadbare and repetitious in what it does. Combat is very ordinary. Dodge roll and hit stuff that doesn’t deviate all that much from the formula until boss fights and even then it’s fairly minimal. It looks good and initially, it’s got a nice rhythm to it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really evolve all that much.
Puzzles and parkour offer more variety and challenge, but again within a very narrow spectrum. Once you’ve got to grips with the odd, but effective jump system (attacking in the air extends the jump length) and the flame puzzle layout, not a lot changes. The main concept of fire and mist as the catalyst for everything definitely helps keep the overall package tight, but I’m not sure that all the possibilities for this are explored.
The Night Comes For Us
The result is a beautiful game that feels a touch shallow below its sparkling visage. To that end, its five-hour playtime is actually a blessing. Just as the game begins to wear out its welcome, it’s effectively over. It sounds a bit crude and dismissive, I know, but it really does work in Nocturnal’s favor. At worst this game forms the bare bones for something more impressive in the future, and I like to see that potential in it. It’s by no means a bad game to play, just an underwhelming experience that could have done with a few more ingredients in the pot. It’s got the seasoning right at least.
Nocturnal is now available for PS5, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.