NUTS is a stylish first-person narrative game about watching squirrels – Review

For this month’s podcast, we’ve been playing NUTS, an indie game where you play as a graduate student who’s participating in a research project to study the behaviour of squirrels. It mightn’t sound like the most enthralling of digital experiences, but there’s something to be said for a relaxing outdoorsy experience where the stakes are very low.

So did the devs manage to crack this nut or did they forget about dreys?

Pros

  • Stylish visuals
  • Interesting narrative
  • Interesting spatial puzzles

Cons

  • A short experience
  • Repetitive gameplay
  • Not optimised for controllers

Personally, I think NUTS looks great. Admittedly, the visuals aren’t for everyone and you could argue it’s more style over substance, but this is a game with a beautifully simple aesthetic that makes it instantly recognisable.

In NUTS, you’re tasked with setting up cameras around the forest in order to discover where squirrels stash their nuts or where they go. The squirrels take the same routes every night so your job is to place a camera at the start of their route, spend an evening watching the recording of where they go, move your camera further down the route the following day, and repeat until you’ve discovered their final destination.

I found this to be an interesting type of puzzle but there’s no doubt that this is the only gameplay that it really offers so it’ll start to feel repetitive after you’ve done it a few times. The game is also rather short at around 3 hours so you won’t have a lot of time to tire of the repetition but you may feel a little frustrated having paid the asking price of the game for such a short experience.

Of course, the key to a good game is quality over quantity, and during the short time I spent with it, I thought that the narrative was excellent. Much like with similar games, exposition is eeked out to you each passing day of studying squirrels and that was enough for me to want to keep playing.

My biggest complaint was that using a controller wasn’t really an option. There is controller support for the game (at least on PC), but it felt too sluggish and even though I’ll almost always play these types of games using one, I immediately went back to the keyboard and mouse controls. Perhaps it’s better on the Switch.

The Verdict

NUTS is a short and sweet experience that can easily be completed in a few short sessions. If you go into the experience knowing this and are happy to just sit back, relax, and absorb the narrative, you’ll probably have a good time, just don’t expect too much from it. It’s a game about watching squirrels, after all.

If you’ve played similar games in the past such as Firewatch, you’ll probably enjoy this one, but if this is your first foray into these types of games, try to go in with an open mind.

NUTS was developed by Joon, Pol, Muutsch, Char & Torf and is available on PC and Switch.

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