Nuts - Watch That Squirrel!
A tale of surveillance and squirrels.
Into the Forest
The woods can be many things to many people. For some, they're a place to commune with nature. For others, they are a place full of primal fears. For virtually no one, though, are they a place to set up surveillance cameras to watch squirrels. Nuts, however, is the kind of game that makes you wish that it was more of a thing. Though it's not for everyone, this inventive simulation game proves that almost any concept can lead to some real virtual fun.
Rear Window with Squirrels - Concept: 4/5
At its heart, Nuts is all about watching. The concept is very simple - you're a researcher sent by a local university to study squirrels. Doing so requires you to set up surveillance equipment so that you can watch the rodents in their natural habitat. Though the game goes down some significantly weirder roads once it gets moving, the truth is that this basic concept is what sustains the game.
You're watching squirrels - that's it.
You're watching squirrels - that's it. You're not going to fight aliens or save the world, you're just going to set up cameras so you can figure out what those squirrels are up to. If nothing else, the concept here is incredibly novel. It might not be enough to support a novel game, but it's more than enough for this bite-sized experience.
A Walk in the Woods - Graphics and Audio: 4/5
There's a certain kind of animated loveliness that has come to characterize a subset of very gentle adventure games. Sunlight, for example, makes great use of this aesthetic, and Nuts absolutely feels like that game's spiritual sequel. Though there's nothing photo-realistic or 'next gen' about the graphics in the least, they serve to create an atmosphere that feels like it is just adjacent to reality.
The audio here is amazing...
The audio here is amazing, though. All of the little sounds of the forest are easy to detect and you'll come to love the soundtrack of the world's ambient noises. We highly recommend that you play this game with a set of headphones, as doing so will quickly transport you to the game's natural world. There are few games that can really create a world with just sound, yet Nuts seems to do so with relative ease.
Driving Your Nuts - Gameplay: 3/5
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Nuts is the fact that it doesn't do more with its gameplay loop. The core of the game is simple - you set up cameras, hoping to track a squirrel's movements. If you're lucky, you get it all done in one shot. If you're not, you go back and painstakingly move around your cameras to try to figure out where the squirrel is going next.
The core of the game is simple - you set up cameras, hoping to track a squirrel's movements.
This is a very satisfying gameplay loop, one that works well. Though Nuts isn't a very long game, it's just long enough to make you wish that the developers would've done more with this mechanic. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it just feels like the first half of something bigger.
A Relaxing Mystery - Replayability: 1/5
If there is a single complaint about Nuts, it's that it is just too short. Able to be beaten in a few hours, there's not a real reason to go back and replay the game beyond the fact that it creates a lovely little world. Still, a game must be doing something right if the worst thing you can say about it is that there needs to be more reason to go back to its world. If you're looking for a gentle puzzle adventure, Nuts may well be the game for you.