Mech combat has always had something of a cult following, with classics such as Zone of The Enders and the Gundam series solidifying their place in the annals of gaming history. Project Nimbus: Complete Edition, developed by GameCrafterTeam, will not be joining them. A lack of content, a poorly told story, and ill-disciplined gameplay hold back what is, at its core, a fun little mech combat game.
We're doing what now?
If you're the kind of person who needs context or a strong narrative in order to enjoy a game, then Project Nimbus is absolutely not for you. The story and writing are bland, forgettable and ultimately of low quality. Before each mission, a short cinematic hurriedly explains what's going on and what you're supposed to do before you drop straight into the mission to get to work. The rest of the story is delivered by a variety of supporting characters babbling away at you while you're desperately trying to avoid being shot to pieces. The pacing is awful. The cinematics went straight over my head. I couldn't concentrate on what anyone was saying during a mission, and who and where I was seemed to be in a constant state of flux. It was utterly baffling. Its something about two rival superpowers in a post-World War 3 scenario, but I honestly can't state much more with any certainty.
Given everything I've just said, you could be forgiven for thinking that the story was something of an afterthought. Tragically, this really wasn't the impression I got. A lot of work seems to have gone into creating the cast of characters and there's certainly a lot going on that Project Nimbus seems to want you to be aware of. One moment in particular, in which one character starts to lament the horrors of war and civilian casualties, feels like a real attempt to play upon your heartstrings, but it falls completely flat as it has no context and feels completely out of place. It hadn't been that long ago that I'd been an anime girl mowing down dozens of my fellow man for reasons unbeknownst to me. Much like the gameplay, the story is unfocused and almost always has far too much going on. If the game would occasionally take a moment to slow down and take a more measured approach, it would go a long way.
Miracle of Flight
The one strength of Project Nimbus, for the most part, is its controls. Soaring through the sky at high speed feels fantastic. There's a good sense of momentum, and getting where you want to go is almost never an issue. Though, there are one or two interior prison escape segments where things can get a bit sticky. These never last long though, and afterwards, it's back into the open skies and into battle. Most of the mechs you get to pilot come equipped with a decent amount of weaponry, ranging from simple machine guns to what the game refers to as psycho drones. These machines chase down your enemies and do damage by what looks like nibbling them. Most of the weapons feel satisfying enough to use, but I was left feeling a little let down by the overall impact they had on my enemies. I wanted to feel my guns tear the enemy mechs apart, but the most you'll ever get is a little explosion or two upon an enemy's demise.
At times, the game really does shine. Nimbly avoiding an enemy missile, chasing down your foe, and then delivering a decisive volley of machine gun fire feels exactly the way it should: exhilarating. Unfortunately, there are several serious issues and poor design decisions that really hold Project Nimbus back. The biggest and most obvious problem is simply a lack of variety. While the campaign does offer up one or two memorable moments, such as a boss fight with a satellite that turns out to be a battleframe itself, most of the levels devolve into shooting down wave after wave of indistinct enemy bots. Every time I heard my commanding officer breathlessly announce that I had "more hostiles inbound," I would despair, as I had inevitably been fighting an identical set of hostiles for the last five minutes.
Compounding this frustration is the degree to which the screen becomes cluttered with enemies, missile warnings, explosions, gunfire and all sorts of other bits and pieces. All of this combined with the speed at which you are usually moving creates a rather unpleasant play experience. It is fun boosting around and avoiding enemy missiles, but when dozens of enemies are firing at once, you have to constantly be moving at full speed or risk a sudden barrage across your backside. This could perhaps be put down to a lack of skill on my part, but I really felt that there were always far too many enemies involved at any one time. Project Nimbus' best moments are when things slow down and you take on a battleframe of comparable stature to your own. The flight mechanics really come into their own as you zip around each other trying to gain the upper hand. You have time to consider your strategy, and the game feels more rewarding and less twitchy as a result. Sadly, these moments were relatively rare, especially outside of the campaign.
Given how light it is on content, Project Nimbus does not live up to the billing. Outside of the short (and underwhelming) campaign, the game offers little of value. There are two other primary modes: "Warfront" and "Survival." Of these two modes, Warfront is the most substantial. In this mode you can choose to embark on one of six different mission types, such as base defense or assassination. These are interesting for the most part, but the slim pickings in regards to maps and dynamic moments within each mission cause things to quickly get repetitive. Play it once and you need never play it again. There are new battleframes and upgrades available, but they all unlock in a completely linear fashion. This negates any strategy or critical thinking on the part of the player and really is the worst way to do upgrades. Some kind of skill tree or deeper loadout customization options would have been a much better way of doing things. There's also no aesthetic customization, which is a huge missed opportunity.
Survival mode is even more basic. You choose one of 15 battleframes (only the more powerful of which are any fun to play) and fight off waves of increasingly difficult enemies. It's not exactly inspired. To make matters even worse, there are only six maps, which is frankly insulting for a game that claims to be a "complete" edition. I dread to think of what was available in editions prior to this one.
A Bit Disappointing
Disappointing really is the only word I can think of to describe Project Nimbus. The core gameplay is fun, but it's buried under a dizzying pile of small problems (as well as a few big ones) that bog the whole experience down. The lack of content is also a serious issue. There is very little replay value for what is already a lightweight game, and I really can't see it having much longevity at all. If you're desperate for mech combat, I'd recommend you look elsewhere.
Robert reviewed Project Nimbus on the Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.