Point, click, and grow.

Title: NAIRI: Tower of&nbsp:Shirin
Platform: PC, Switch (Reviewed)
Developer: HomeBear Studio
Publisher: That Indie Company
Price: 
PC £9 / $10
Switch £9 / $10
Release date: Out Now 
TL;DR: A tidy point and click adventure perfect for a rainy day.
Family Focus?:Click here for more information

There’s something strange about the point and click genre. The first thing is that I was blissfully unaware of just how many games in the genre were still lurking in modern times. And secondly, it’s a genre that – much like the string of puzzle platformers we’ve seen in recent years – tends to strike an emotional chord at times. Yes, we still get the odd whacky adventure that plays up to the classic point and clicks of yesteryear but overall, the genre seems to be edging away from those dream-logic fuelled adventures.

So it is with Nairi: Tower of Shirin, a game that somehow manages to swing between these two styles at will, offering a story that treads the waters in being evocative, while breaking up these moments with a cast of characters that do well to drop the odd line or face that’s warrants a chuckle. And while the game is far from flawless, it throws out all the hallmarks of the genre, with handmade scenery and characters that can’t help but draw comparisons to the likes of Studio Ghibli (mostly because, well, animals in clothes). While a healthy dose of intricate puzzles in the game are welcome, they’re offset a bit by the annoyingly obligatory pixel-hunting fiasco that so many point and click games tend to throw our way.

Still, Nairi is very much a game that has more strengths than its weaknesses and at the tippy-top of those strengths is the game’s obscenely charming design. With Nairi apparently the only human in existence, much of the game’s cast is made up of adorably cut-throat animals; with ducks threatening you before demanding you bring them snacks, a chubby rat who soon becomes a trusted companion, and a group of cat bandits who take you prisoner in the opening moments of the game. It’s a design choice that makes every encounter a light-hearted one. It’s not just the characters that stick out in the game though, the scenes shown throughout all make the most of the game’s purposefully childish design. Giving way to vibrant desert scenes, skeleton littered temples, and fantasy-esque taverns.

It helps that Nairi also offers a series of cut scenes – sort of. Some momentous parts of the game play out in semi-vignette sections as characters and scenerey move around in stilted motions. It’s a nice inclusion that breaks up the dialogue screens of the game and did manage to draw a handful of “oohs” from me when they unfolded.

Of course, in between those dialogue screens and cutscenes, there are a fair few puzzles for the player to solve. The variety in these puzzles is perhaps the game’s biggest strength, varying from fashioning hats for a duck to decoding the order a collection of stone tablets need to be pressed in order to open a door, and stumbling through time, to name just a few of the puzzles. And while each is enjoyably challenging, offering vague clues for players when needed, they stick to the tried and trusted mechanics of the genre. Basically, you’ll be spending a long old time combining bits and pieces, grabbing anything you can pick up, and hanging on to the most random of items until they magically become useful.

Now, unless a point and click is able to make you belly laugh, the genre rarely manages to string together a compelling story. Nairi does well to buck this trend somewhat. Following the titular Nairi as she begins a journey that sees her transition from sheltered house mouse to a fearless, erm, wild mouse? Because of the time constraints of the game, Nairi’s transition from cowering child to super child is perhaps a little rushed but it’s still a journey that’s noticeable.

With so many games breaking out on to the Switch and a seemingly endless stream of titles on Steam, it’s likely that a game like NAIRI: Tower of Shirin has slipped past since being released. I suggest you remedy that as soon as possible. The game offers a little bit of something that anyone who enjoys a good puzzle adventure will enjoy; whether that be the charming design, the relaxed experience each session with the game offers, or just the rather fun challenge of the puzzles, every part of the game adds up to make NAIRI: Tower of Shirin not quite a must-play title but certainly something worth picking up and saving for a rainy day.

The Good:

  • Beautifully handcrafted scenes and characters
  • Nice variety of puzzles that keeps things fresh while sticking to conventional core mechanics
  • A lovely pace to the game that throws up some strange events I really wasn’t expecting

The Bad:

  • It’s a bit of a low-blow to pick out but the pixel-hunting gameplay that NAIRI imitates from other point and click games only serves to devolve puzzles into maddening quests of randomly interacting with everything

Family Focus

PEGI: 3 ESRB: “E” for Everyone

NAIRI: Tower of Shirin offers a game full of animals dressed in adorable outfits, so yeah, it’s a pretty good game for children. Expect a lot of challenging puzzles though, making it a game well worth playing through with your kid.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a copy of the game provided by PR for the purpose of this review.