Genre: Adventure, Puzzle, Simulation
System: Nintendo Switch ( Steam & iOS)
Developer/Publisher: Joon, Pol, Muuutsch,Char & Torfi | Noodlecake
Age Rating: EU Not yet rated | USA Teen
Price: US $19.99 | EU €19.99
Release Date: February 4th, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to Popagenda PR
Otherwise known as the American Red Squirrel. A frequent sight in warm weather. These little darlings can often be seen running up and down trees, burying – or pretending to bury if you’re watching – nuts for winter, or simply sitting and munching on a pine cone.
Full of vivaciousness mixed with a little bit of trickster, careful observation of these delightful creatures can yield much joy. From recognizing a shy introverted squirrel, to being the reason the watch-squirrel chitters loudly into the forest, squirrel watching is a delightful pastime.
This experience is something developers Joon, Pol, Muuutsch, and Char & Torfi are bringing into the comfort of our own homes in their adorable little simulation game: NUTS.
Published by Noodlecake, NUTS will take players on a journey into the tranquility of Melmoth Forest. You’ve been hired by Nina – the woman on the other end of your trailer phone – to update a squirrel study she undertook many years ago.
While she takes care of the lawyers, newspapers, and corporations in the city, you must find and document the squirrels’ behavior. The forest is under threat by a money-grubbing corporation trying to build a dam. However, there’s more to the wily squirrel than meets the eye. It’s up to you to find out just what is going on with the squirrels of Melmoth Forest.
Otherwise known as the red squirrel. These little fellows are found in Eurasia, and can be easily distinguished from their fellows in America by their long ear hair. However, if you’re trying to tell them apart just based on cute-factor, you’ll have a difficult time. They’re both the epitome of adorable!
In NUTS – a first person (squirrel photo) shooter – players are hauled out into the middle of nowhere in a small trailer. Starting up the generator will supply your new tiny-home with the power it needs to find, and monitor, the squirrels.
Your new home consists of a small desk space with some almost antique television sets (funding this project may have gotten a bit better, but there aren’t any flatscreen TVs in the future), a fax machine for sending your photos and findings to Nina, a small bed, corkboard, and telephone.
Players will be given some cameras and a GPS device; they will then be tasked with picking up (A) and moving the cameras around the area, and then placing them down in areas that squirrels are likely to pass by.
Once you have placed all your cameras, you must return to your trailer and hit the record button on your “high-tech” recording equipment.
This will take you from DAY to NIGHT. During the night, you can review the footage you captured on your cameras. If your cameras are aimed the right way, you will see them scamper by, and can then use this information to reposition the cameras the next day in an attempt to find out about the squirrels.
Otherwise known as the flying squirrel! These little sweethearts can’t actually fly like birds. Instead they have skin that stretches between their front and back feet; by spreading their legs wide when they jump, their little bodies create a parachute that allows them to glide with ease.
Alas, Melmoth Forest doesn’t have any flying squirrels. But what it does have is an extremely unique visual style. Each level has a different visual theme as well.
Each level has two primary colours that greatly contrast with each other, then these two are used to contrast the background (such as the trees and rocks) with the important objects (like your cameras and GPS, and the squirrels themselves). It is very artistic, and makes the game feel like a vivid painting.
Visuals and Music
The sounds and music are very calming and soothing, and make you feel like you’re wandering around a serene forest. The crunching of your shoes on the rocks and grass, the trickle of water from a lazy creek, it is all very ambient and succeeds in creating the mood of a forest.
As well, the squirrel noises are spot on. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the developers spent hours just recording squirrels chittering and squeaking away, and then simply slapped those sounds into their game. It brings the squirrels, who are small and cell-shaded only one colour, to life.
The game is fully voice acted, however there is only one voice you will ever hear and interact with, and that is Nina. She does a good job at filling you in on what you’re doing here and why, as well as adding suspense and surprise to the mystery players need to unfold.
While playing, I personally encountered a few bugs; I had to close and restart the game in order to fix it. It’s nothing game-breaking, and nothing a quick patch won’t fix.
NUTS is an adorable walk through a forest of tranquillity. The gameplay is fun and unique, and nicely paced. The game doesn’t feel too hectic or too slow, and the specific requests from Nina players must achieve for each level increase in difficulty and keep the game interesting.
The story is fabulous, especially if you love (or even just like) squirrels. A small group of people trying to protect animal habitat from a huge mega-corporation that wants to tear it all down in the name of profit.
It is a story that is, sadly, all too real in this day and age. You’ll be rooting for yourself, the forest, and the squirrels the entire time as you try to capture their adorable furry faces in your camera. Definitely pick up this game if you like: calm, relaxing games, squirrels, photography and unique art!
Final Verdict: I Like It A Lot