I’m quite sure there’s a line someplace in Melville where he all of a sudden reveals he’s not that crazy about penguins. In my head I actually believe it’s Melville – perhaps Moby-Dick or The Encantadas. The line, as I half-remember it, recommends there is something distinctively unlovable about penguins, something a little exceptional and nasty.
The line is constantly accompanied by a footnote confessing that, yes, Melville was plainly incorrect about this one. We enjoy penguins. Take a survey. Penguins are generally admired. The thing they make with the rock. The eyebrows on a few of them. The strong chocolate bar synergy for UK fans. We do not even feel fooled when their awkwardness on land paves the way to muscular beauty in the water. The awkwardness flashing into beauty at the minute of effect really appears to recommend adjoining virtues.
There are no penguins in Nuts – or if there are, I missed them. But I thought of Melville’s handle penguins due to the fact that Nuts is everything about squirrels – and squirrels, I all of a sudden began to understand, are not generally admired. It appears sometimes that we can’t choose about them. They are charming and sprightly and relocate a charming fountain-pen ripple, sure, however up close there are those unexpected sharp teeth, therefore much of them! There are those shiny, inscrutable eyes. And then somebody will state, “Oh, you understand the grey squirrels eliminated all the red ones,” and after that, perhaps a little uncontrolled shudder?
Maybe not. I believe the stubborn genius of Nuts is that it utilizes this obscurity about squirrels – it utilizes the unsure area they inhabit in our awareness. The video game’s main concerns are generally: do you trust squirrels or do you suspect them? When you insinuate yourself into the squirrels’ world, exactly what do you discover? How do you feel, naturally, about a event of squirrels?
These are concerns the video game responses, however that is next to the point. What matters is how this unpredictability fuels this uncommon experience and assists make it remarkable.
In Nuts, you’re a current college student looking into squirrels in Meloth Forest. You reside in a camper van and invest your days positioning electronic cameras in the woods and your nights keeping track of the feeds from these electronic cameras. You interact with your remarkable over fax and telephone, and although there’s something heavy in the air, the video game’s very first half is marked by a lazy agrarian sweet taste. I completed Nuts a couple of days earlier and I still wish to return, to the cosy camper with its domestic chaos, to the forest and streams and sky, provided, like whatever else in this video game, as spectral details of the natural world stained the warm moving colours of a Miami mixed drink – hot pinks, sunset blue, reefy yellows and oranges.
It’s an art design with a great deal of play in it, vibrant about flatness, however working well in the video game’s 3D, first-person environments, able to keep things legible as you choose long walkings and backtrack your actions, while likewise conjuring whatever from stone forts to disposed of oil drums. And as things get darker and more overbearing, the colours shift and end up being more complaining, the shadows and skies looming.
Your task modifications from one chapter to the next, however it typically involves catching video of the regional squirrels on video. To do this you need to exercise where the squirrels are at the start of the day – gladly, in-game squirrels more than happy to backtrack their actions identically every day, and perhaps genuine squirrels do this anyhow? – and established a cam. Then, over a course of nights and days, you discover what the squirrels are doing.
This is the video game. First night, very first electronic camera set-up. Do you see a squirrel? Where does it go into and leave the frame? Second day. Based on those entryways and exits, where can you position a cam to record the next little action? And the bit after that?
An unexpected variety of various goals are readily available with such a set-up. Where do the squirrels originate from? Where is their stash? Can you record – I disliked this one – particular minutes of their day-to-day roaming? There is something rather squashing about the task that is exposed by this loop. Each day I wake, move a cam perhaps a couple of feet and after that go back to the camper to set off the night shift and an evaluation of the video, and jeepers, that single electronic camera motion was my whole day! But rapidly Nuts develops the electronic cameras till you have 3, and after that there’s a little enjoyable to be had checking out the video game’s little however expressive levels. Sometimes I tried to predict where the squirrel’s stash would be, long before my daisy-chaining of camera viewpoints had revealed it. I was always wrong.
And there’s also the developing plot to keep an eye on, revealed in faxes and phone calls from your boss as you submit squirrel photos and complete tasks, however also hinted at by the movements and noctivagant congregations of the squirrels themselves. I had actually a friend once who admitted he couldn’t watch The Muppet Show as a kid, when he realised that the theatre audience for the Muppet Show were likewise muppets.. I get a little of that shudder in Nuts, when I realised that I am living around these squirrels, and that I have my agenda and that they have their own agendas, and really if I’m absolutely honest, I’m following and they’re leading.
Things speed up towards the end of the short narrative, however this is the crux of it: you will like the main gameplay loop or you will hate it. I loved it. Where others may correctly see busywork and backtracking and annoying failures, I started to relish the incremental acquisition of new knowledge, the instance of the fingerpost when everything comes together.
In retrospect, I think Nuts is a game specifically tailored for the plodders, but likewise the catastrophists. It’s for people who shuffle through life methodically, but have minds forever spiralling outwards with plans of possible chaos and misfortune. People who enjoy squirrels and are perhaps a little envious of their apparent company, of the glittering clearness of the world in which squirrels appear to run. Nuts, sometimes, is a genuine journey.