Ever since the Games with Gold program has gone live, I’ve amassed a backlog of free games for my Xbox One, as I’m sure many of you have as well. In November, Pneuma: Breath of Life was added to the program and has been sitting in my queue since then.
On a whim, I decided to give Pneuma a shot, and I am damn glad I did.
On the outside, Pneuma looks like a silly, charming little puzzle game. While it definitely fits that description, it also packs a surprising amount of punch in the short while it takes to complete. Throughout the game, you must think outside of the box as you navigate through a world of puzzles, all while the main character experiences himself and goes through an existential rollercoaster.
As I said, this game is very short, but I enjoyed every moment of it. The puzzles ranged from easy to quite challenging, without ever being boring or repetitive. The game really thrives in it’s simplicity; you will spend so little time worrying about the controls or pacing of the game that you will end up much more immersed into the story and world.
Having been built in Unreal Engine 4, the world looks absolutely gorgeous. The environment begins in a void and expands into a very Roman inspired playground of the gods as our main character discovers himself and his surroundings. As he continues his journey, you will listen in on his musings and inner monologue, wherein lies the charm that I instantly fell in love with.
The only drawback I found during my playthrough was that it was over too soon. I clocked in about three and a half hours of game time, having casually gone through each puzzle and being stuck a time or two (or three). I would have liked a few more hours here, but at the same time, it may be the perfect length as well. It’s hard to tell whether or not the puzzles and witty dialogue would have carried on any longer, not that either were getting taxing yet.
Having said that, the game is beautiful, well written, hilarious, challenging, and thought provoking. It also has one of the coolest ending sequences that I have experienced in any game I’ve played. I literally could not say anything other than “Wow” for a good ten minutes after I finished. I won’t spoil it here, but I will say that it alone is worth the couple of hours spent to get there.
In the end, I highly recommend this game to anyone. It may not be worth the full MSRP of 19.99, but it can be found on sale for cheaper, so add it to your wish list. It’s available on Xbox One and PC (via Steam, where it is currently on sale for 2.99!).
Go get it!