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  • John Bush

Game Review #316: NO THING (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewed By: John B. Developed By: Evil Indie Games Published By: Forever Entertainment Category: Arcade Release Date: 05.22.18 Price (At Time of Review): $1.99

Buy NO THING from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

OK. We’ve got a bit of a weird one today, but honestly it’s kind of a cool one, too. NO THING for the Nintendo Switch, from Forever Entertainment and Evil Indie Games, is an incredibly simple infinite runner with a just plain surreal aesthetic. Despite its simplicity, NO THING is pretty challenging to conquer – and did I mention it’s just really, really strange? But in like a cool way? Most of the time when I play a game and don’t know what’s going on I feel frustrated and I kind of hate it. I have no idea what’s going on in NO THING, but I actually kind of love it. I’d say I’m going to stop being vague and start the review now, but I honestly don’t think I can stop being vague about what just happened to me because I don’t know what just happened to me. It’s wonderful.

Your Shoes Are Shining, But I Know Who You Are

The gameplay is about as simple as it gets. It’s a first-person runner where you are automatically driven forward at all times. The only thing you do is choose to turn left or right to follow the path in front of you. The farther you get into one of the twelve levels, the faster you go. It tests your reaction speed and depth perception with things like vanishing pathways and paths that don’t appear until the very last second the farther you get into things, but as far as gameplay goes… that’s it. You just turn. If you turn too fast or too slow you fall of the path and have to start again at the beginning of the level. Normally, I’d say that’s a pretty boring idea for a game, but NO THING has its distractingly abstract art direction to accompany the proceedings, and that’s how the game became a pleasure to experience.

I Am You And In You Now

The graphics are a brilliantly surreal grab bag of strange floating images and surreal landscapes with a shifting monotone color palette. One second you’re running along a floating red pathway towards a giant old lady head and the next you’ve turned a corner and the world’s gone green and you’re surrounding by outstretched hands. The next level you’re running up a ramp elevating you over a sunken, beige cityscape and then the pathway drops out and your momentum carries you over a gap and you land on a bright blue road surrounded by towering airborne skyscrapers. The visuals are constantly shifting and bizarre as heck, and they are fantastic to behold.

The music is as wonderfully random as the visual style. NO THING features a hypnotic techno soundtrack with electronic-voiced gibberish spouting over it. I’ve never found myself as blissfully confused as I was while being bombarded by the shifting colorscapes and the computerized tone of the game’s narrator randomly blurting out broken phrases. Most of the times I died (and I died a lot) I was too busy trying to take in my surroundings to watch where I was going. I know the gameplay is about a gradual increase in speed, but a way to stop and smell the terrifyingly claustrophobic oversized flowers would have been welcome.

And So Knows the Queen

I mentioned the gameplay and art direction of the game, but I didn’t really touch on the story because… well, I think it’s nonsense too? Something about being an office clerk sending a message to the Queen of Ice? At least that’s what the trailer said. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter, because I think a structured narrative can only weaken the impact of NO THING. Through its simple yet challenging gameplay and marvelously weird aesthetic, NO THING creates a perfect little bundle of weird that anyone can pick up and play in a wonderful state of amused bewilderment. It’s not a game that’s going to change your life or leave a huge impact, but for the few hours you’re wandering around its world, you’ll have a good time.

Score: 7.5/10

Buy NO THING from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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