Geometric Isolationism and Morbid Anxiety in NaissanceE
The geometry is watching my every move. I am fumbling around in the dark, lost in a sea of greyscale. Remember what we are supposed to do when we are lost, chase after the familiar. Follow the light. The meandering hallways are steeped in dread, with intoxicating blank, sterile faces. Closing in on me. I am breathless, trapped in limbo, I am running nowhere fast. Out of the darkness and into the white. Illuminated pathways unravel as every shade of white, black, and in between color the walls. The light is running alongside me, chasing the darkness away as I cling to its welcoming glow.
NaissanceE does for the modern FPS what Half-Life once did for the the burgeoning genre of the late 90s. Complicated rooms elicit a consistent sense of fleeting environmental awareness. Accustomed puzzle design is masked over by an inherent doctrine encouraging persistence, even when the solution is not immediately identifiable. But whereas Half-Life establishes horror largely through alien enemy design and placement, NaissanceE escalates fear through a variety of environmental abstractions, vividly painting its blanched world with awe-inspiring underground vistas and impossible geometry.
The walls are moving. The flat, barren surfaces are riddled with three-dimensional growths, cubic organisms swallowing whole the atmosphere condensed within. I am cornered, there is darkness imbued inside, from the exhausting geometry which withholds light from entering. Perched above a steeple, a sort of tomb that appears ancient yet refined, I descend towards the emanating luminescence guiding my way, placing trust in this temple’s design. Surely an exit approaches. Surely, an exit exists at all. I will find it.
Lisa is lost. The first words etched across the screen, over a blank wall I wake up to after falling down a well. Something is chasing me. I am lost. The wall is saturated in white, grey, and black. It is a fitting image to introduce the deliberate composition of the game’s landscapes. A game? No, this is an excavation. An historical journey dripping with metaphysical anxieties. The lone human entity (or assumedly so) pants and heaves and must control her breath as she frantically treks through the serpentine catacombs. Rather, I must control it for her. We are lost.
Labyrinthine cityscapes forged out of the sides of chasms. Endless staircases and enormous vacant rooms. Statues of unfolding geometric shapes standing tall like monuments in a commemorative plaza. These iconic constructions beguile and amaze ceaselessly throughout the prodigious venture. Architecture is used to extract a freeflowing sense of wonder from the game’s audience, ebullient and surging as the journey itself.
But while this invitation of wonder urges progression, fear permeates within the frame of gloom. When the geometry suddenly becomes deformed, grotesque even, NaissanceE reminds players to be cautious, even as they heedlessly stumble through its darkened marrows. A bottomless pit is constructed as a prismatic vertical fissure in the earth, impeccably structural if not for the amassed blobs of rectangular figures pouring out of the walls. I leap upon them, one by one, and they carry me further down into the inexplicable abyss.
Should I not be ascending? So often, an adventure is catalogued by the pursuit of an exit reached heavensward. Light shines down upon the earth; perhaps then, NaissanceE is not based within our realm of reality? In this purgatorial vision, light may emanate from nothing at all. It can be manipulated to materialize objects into existence, or dissolve away; thus light may giveth, and it may taketh away.
Melancholy meanders throughout these decrepit, obfuscated landscapes. An infinite yearning dictates the entire venture. Lisa is lost, but lost from where? From whom? Does she understand this plane of reality more than the person controlling her? Down the rabbit hole she plunged, into a world of complicated architecture which traverses like a beguiling stream of consciousness. How did people design this?
The developers at Limasse Five appear to be fascinated with the very notion of level design, of the choreographic nature inherent within a player’s intended succession through their world. The convoluted, twisting archways and corridors permitting advancement, they intrinsically baffle the mind. Lost in a sea of decadent deformation amidst deliberate geometric idealism, I reach towards the guiding spirit of the light.
Lightness, illumination, the eradication of dark fundamentally expels sightlessness, opening up the world and liberating those caught in a cycle of listless meandering. Look towards the light. Find hope, find sight, find your way.
According to its integral developmental arrangements, NaissanceE stands as a philosophizing dreamscape indebted to the perplexing apparatuses operating human consciousness and subconsciousness. Light and dark, perception and blindness, the yin and the yang of the human mind, forever obfuscating our relationship with reality even as we meander through its bewildering corridors, searching for a transcending beacon of luminosity.