Itch.io is a good source for games, and it’s never been easy to be a game developer with all the great software out there to help with building games. One game that combines these two aspects is Niravasi, a survival horror adventure game made with RPG Maker MV.
In it, you play as Mura, an anthropomorphic feline-like creature who, initially, almost everyone appears to hate. You’re in a squad who has crash landed on an island, home to the ancient city of Niravasi. Almost straight away your whole squad is under threat from a supernatural being, and within a few minutes, you’ll be all alone, with a phone to contact someone off-screen to fill you in on what’s happened and how to proceed.
I’ve tried to make games in RPG Maker before, and to do what the developer has done with Niravasi is nothing short of impressive. The maps are big, well designed with plenty of things tucked away for you to find and look at, and despite the art being somewhat crude, there’s a solid level of creepiness throughout which constantly had me on edge. What impressed me most of all though is the varied camera angles which come into play when you enter different areas. You’ll have close ups, more two-dimensional angles and the standard view and initially I was a little confused by it as occasionally I found it hindered my ability to find my way around, but it adds a lot to the game. I couldn’t even wander down a hallway without feeling like something bad was going to happen at a moment’s notice because of various creepy things popping up on the walls – but only long enough for you to catch a glimpse, and when you look over at it, it’s already gone.
The unsettling vibe continues throughout this game, especially after the first half an hour or so when you start solving puzzles and the protectors of the city start roaming around and you’re tasked with trying to be stealthy and avoiding these bionic reverse-tellytubby nightmares in order to continue further and try to find your squad and a way off the island. Getting too close to these monstrosities only leads to a quick boot back to the main menu ending your game and requiring a reload. It’s punishing, and probably my main complaint about the game, but you do learn quickly not to trifle with terrifying entities.
That is probably my main concern with Niravasi – occasionally the user experience can be a bit poor, especially with no auto-save. Quite early on I figured out to save at every opportunity, even if it meant backtracking, because you could be involved in a chase sequence or just make a wrong move and be booted back to the main screen. In the first half an hour of gameplay, I’d made a habit to enter every door I saw, but during a chase, instead of thinking “Hey, maybe I could hide in there”, if you turn down there you’re probably going to be faced with an enemy. It’s not ideal, as it did make me less and less willing to explore the game.
I wasn’t sure about Niravasi going in, having had plenty of bad experiences with RPG Maker-made games, but I was pleasantly surprised. There were a few foibles in the game, but given it isn’t due for release until the end of the year, it’s definitely forgiveable. If you’re a person that loves the uneasy feeling you get from creepy games, particularly ones with a bit more of a 16bit feel to them, you’ll probably get on quite fine with this one.
You can find out more about Niravasi at its Itch.io page