In contrast to all the dark, dreary, fear-inducing horror titles emerging this time of year is NAIRI, a game that is "trying to make everyone's world a little happier." That uplifting goal certainly seemed to resonate with people, as this "cute" point-and-click adventure with "adorable visuals, compelling characters and engaging puzzles" has just met its crowdfunding target on Kickstarter.
NAIRI tells the story of two unlikely heroes who find themselves thrust together under extraordinary circumstances. There's the titular young girl, a skeptical and stubborn upper-class child whose life has been extremely sheltered until she is suddenly separated from her family and cast out into the city slums. There Nairi meets Rex, a charismatic rat and "notorious criminal-turned-scholar." While specific story details are still sparse, we know that "together they adventure through the animal-inhabited oasis city of Shirin" as they uncover its "dark history and mysteries."
Described by indie Dutch developer HomeBearStudio as a "child-friendly story with subtly mature themes, inspired by works such as The Last Airbender, Toy Story and Spirited Away, the lighter, more whimsical tone of NAIRI's story is "juxtaposed with a strong focus on character development and a darker overarching theme." The "adorable visuals" are done in a vivid painterly style that brings Shirin to life. Carefully constructed around the development of a mysterious tower, Shirin comprises a number of unique districts and inhabitants, from the Royal Palace to public bazaars to dark ruins and crypts.
While much of the gameplay above ground will include inventory gathering and character interaction, with certain choices affecting the path each player's story will take, the dungeons promise to be "more puzzle-oriented than the overworld" and therefore more challenging. Fortunately, Rex's journal serves as a hint system, and a map system will help prevent any disorientation. In fact, the developers have stated their clear intent to avoid the usual genre pitfalls like pixel-hunting, backtracking, and obtuse puzzles.
Freshly bolstered by more than €7,500 through its Kickstarter campaign, HomeBearStudio can now buckle down with an eye to completing the game by its targeted PC release date of March 2017. In the meantime, you can follow NAIRI's progress through the developer's website.