|System: PC*, Xbox One|
|Dev: Deco Digital, Bevel Studios|
|Release: February 27, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
As an interactive backdrop, the stunning displays are more than worth an extra pause. Pneuma: Breath of Life is the epitome of serenity, with polished gold plated walls, glistening marble floors, finely hewn stonework, and healthily photosynthesized plants presented as part of each new puzzle location. The reflective quality of every surface, and the lighting effects in general, are masterfully done, bringing a warmth from the sun that can almost be felt through the screen. The specific color palette sees little variance throughout the course of the adventure, though the exquisite design will likely withhold your criticisms. The immersion into this puzzle laden utopia is breached, however, each time you enter a new area. The game renders each new section without load screens as you progress through the chapter, and it takes a few noticeable seconds for all the textures to fully load. With such a silky smooth visual coating as a whole, these brief graphical hiccups are enough to pull you from the illusion.
Peaceful new-age music and ambient natural soundscapes enhance this paradise even further. The game never strays from its gentle rhythm, though when in rooms completely estranged from the sun's rays, a silence and claustrophobic aura permeate the finely crafted architecture. Esteemed voice actor Jay Britton performs the self-socializing monologue admirably. The holistic script is delivered with a clarity that encapsulates you in the protagonist's journey, even without a fluctuating emotional struggle throughout most of the story.
Pneuma: Breath of Life provides an interesting male lead, a gorgeous backdrop, and unique puzzles solved through the powers of perception. However, it fails to provide a nuanced story, and the one it delivers finishes much too soon. With such a surreal premise, there was an opportunity to take the journey much further and the puzzles much deeper. It's a stunning presentation, but in the end your personal judgment will be based on quality over quantity.
Date: March 4, 2015