Nature Matters – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle game
Developer: Digital Melody
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Platform: Switch, iOS
Tested on: Switch

Nature Matters – Review

Site Score
7.6
Good: Relaxing atmosphere throughout the game
Bad: Control stick sensitivity is a bit too high
User Score
9.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Given the number of games we review over here at 3rd-strike.com, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that occasionally a title slips through the cracks and ends up being reviewed a little later than we intend to. Such is the case with developer Digital Melody’s Nature Matters, a title that actually launched in early June. Better late than never, however, we’re presenting our review of this appealing looking puzzle game. Is Nature Matters a hidden gem worth picking up? Read on to find out.

Story

In the storybook-like opening scene, we meet a nameless spirit who inhabits a tree. Every day, a young boy comes around to water the tree, until one day he suddenly stops doing so. Wanting to be reunited with the boy, the spirit decides to venture into the barren outside world to go looking for him. Along the way, she encounters a fox occasionally, who gives her advice and tells her about his encounters with the boy. Surprisingly enough, beneath the sugar-coated appearance of Nature Matters’ narrative lies a rather heartfelt tale about growing up and -less surprisingly, perhaps- how humanity could respect nature a little more.

Graphics

With its pastel colours and appealing character designs, Nature Matters certainly is easy on the eyes. The game is divided into four seasons, and each season has its own distinct colour palette as well, providing the visuals with some much-needed variety. The game runs smooth as butter thanks to its relatively simplistic visuals, although in all honesty, we would’ve made some changes here even if it meant hampering performance. For one, you can only look at the stages from a fixed angle, and we would’ve preferred being able to rotate some of them to get a different view. Additionally, things are a little too zoomed out in some stages, and getting in closer -especially in handheld mode- would have made for a more enjoyable experience as well. We were fans of the minimalistic, clean interface though.

Sound

The soft music that is playing throughout Nature Matters adds to the relaxing atmosphere of the game. The game is fairly light on sound effects, but what is present here works well enough. Finally, there is some voice acting present, but there is something off about the accent of the narrator. It sounds like she isn’t a native English speaker but she’s trying to bring her best impression of a British lady to the game, resulting in awkward-sounding scenes.

Gameplay

Nature Matters might not be the most original title out there, offering a relatively simple version of classic puzzle gameplay. Taking control of the tree spirit, players are presented with a series of irregularly shaped platforms that are barren in their appearance. The aim is to move the tree spirit over these platforms in such a way that she passes over each barren square, transforming it into a lush, nature-covered field. This does come with a caveat, however. The spirit cannot move over a square that she has already transformed. Admittedly, this doesn’t make sense from a narrative perspective, but it’s logical from a gameplay point of view. As players gradually progress through each of Nature Matters’ 90 stages, the layout of each platform becomes trickier and new gameplay elements are introduced.

These new elements include things like teleporters and keys that terraform the stage, opening up new pathways. These fundamentally change the way levels are approached, and Nature Matters really shines when stages start combining these to create puzzles that require you to really think. The game gradually builds up its difficulty, easing the player into its fundamental mechanics, and doesn’t really ramp up the challenge until roughly halfway into the game. This is when the season changes to Winter and the game then introduces blocks that you need to pass over twice in order to transform them. Even so, if you fail to solve a puzzle a number of times, the game subtly offers you the option to skip it and move on to the next. The game features 90 stages, but most shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to complete. This means you’re looking at roughly five hours to complete the entire game, which seems fair given the €4.99 asking price.

All in all, Nature Matters is a fairly polished game that provides a relaxing experience. Although some of the later puzzles are fairly tricky, the game does everything it can to make the player feel at ease. There is no time limit or turn limit here. There are no lives to worry about. The only real punishment you get for failing a level is that you need to start it over. This results in a fairly stress-free experience, though we do have one major gripe, and that lies in the game’s control scheme. While Nature Matters is played on a grid, you need to move the Tree Spirit around using the control sticks rather than the D-pad. The control sticks’ sensitivity is far too high, however, and it’s easy to make a movement mistake because of this, resulting in you moving a square further than intended. There is no “undo” button either, so holding down your stick for a fraction of a second too long can -and often will- require you to restart the stage. Finally, the game supposedly has a hints/help feature, indicated by a question mark, but pressing the associated button didn’t do anything.

Conclusion

Nature Matters is a puzzle title that combines beautiful aesthetics, atmospheric music and satisfying gameplay to provide a relaxing experience. There are a few areas that could use some improvement, notably with the sensitivity of moving the tree spirit around, but overall, this is a good title to unwind with after a stressful day. The game is fairly short and has very little replay value, but the low asking price makes this an essential pickup for anyone that likes puzzle titles.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Nature Matters - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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