Neves (Nintendo DS) Review

Click here to visit the Neves description page for screenshots and more information.

Review by tankMage (November 2017)

Score: C

   Neves is a puzzle game for the Nintendo DS that requires players to fit geometric shapes into a silhouette that is usually in the shape of an animal, vehicle, or some common object. Think of a collection of simplified jigsaw puzzles and you have something that resembles, Neves. First of all, my experience with puzzle games is limited to a handful of titles, such as Tetris, Wild Snakes, and Puzzle Quest, so I’m not an authority on the topic by any means. With that said, I enjoy playing puzzle games from time to time as a break from blowing things up or slaying hordes of monsters, so hopefully I can give these titles fair reviews…gotta start somewhere, right? As for Neves, it’s a decent game that is mildly addictive, but it never really takes off. A little variety and amplified challenge would have made this title more memorable, but it at least manages to be an amusing diversion.

Graphics

   As graphics go, this game looks ok. The devs had to be careful about how they colored the puzzle pieces to avoid giving the solution away, since the goal is to arrange the pieces into a shape indicated by the silhouette, which is usually a recognizable object, so the game comes off as very low key. Problem is, some of the objects barely looked like what they were supposed to be, which wasn’t a big deal, but it hurt the mood of the game. For example, the Olympic Torch puzzle looked more like a mutant pineapple and the UFO (something that should be easy to represent using the available shapes) resembled a bundle of sticks. To the game’s credit, there are a slew of silhouettes, many of which were cleverly constructed using the game’s limited selection of shapes.

Good job! Now do this another 499 times.

Music and Sound

   Ok, so I’m going to come right out and say that I don’t like Jazz, so it was hard for me to enjoy the sound track. Despite the fact that I’m not a fan of the music, I have to admit the score was well composed and executed. Some of the songs were even likable. Unfortunately, much of the music simply doesn’t fit the mood of the game. Many of the pieces were way too frenetic, which didn’t mesh well with the concept of a game that is basically about putting jigsaw puzzles together. The tracks were also sparse: there are about eight songs in total, so the BGM starts to wear thin after a while.

   I really liked the sound effects, however. They really weren’t much more than a series of wooden or metallic sounding clicks and pops, but they made snapping a piece into the right place all the more satisfying.

User Interface

   Neves is primarily controlled via the touch screen, which works well for the most part, but the game can be finicky from time to time. There were instances where two pieces were overlapped or placed very closely together and it was not easy to grab the right one. Players also have to make sure pieces are fit into the silhouette precisely, which can be confusing at first, because the puzzle will not be considered solved until everything is set into place as it should be. This lead to me trying to redo a puzzle I had the correct solution for, because to pieces were misaligned by about a millimeter.

   Another fundamental problem with the UI is that the pieces are only displayed on the bottom screen. Since the game forces players to use the touchscreen, the player’s hand will often obscure part of the image. This made it difficult to get perspective at times, but ultimately wasn’t a big deal.

Gameplay

   Neves offers a plethora of puzzles to solve as well as several gameplay modes, the most basic being “Silhouettes?” (I’m not sure why they felt the need to put a question mark there), which is basically easy mode. In Silhouettes? players simply arrange the pieces so they fit into the silhouette. Next there’s “Time Pressure” which imposes a time limit on the puzzles. Then there’s “7 Steps” which limits the number of times players can pick up a piece. All in all, the various modes are cool and add some variety to the experience, but they are fatally flawed, because each mode uses the same set of puzzles. You’re likely to have some vague memory of solving a silhouette from a previous mode, so very little challenge is actually added to the game.

   Another problem this game suffers from is that none of the silhouettes are very tough to figure out. The puzzles only become easier as the player advances and learns how to position pieces to form an image without trial and error. Much of the blame for the game’s inverted difficulty curve comes from the fact that they only use five different shapes and three of those shapes only differ in size, so once you learn to think within the game’s bounds it becomes easy to see how each silhouette can be filled in.

   Neves may have some issues, but it still manages to be fun and entertaining. Silhouettes? is fun in a chill sort of way and it’s interesting to apply the skills you learn in this mode to the other modes. There’s also a lot of puzzles, so players should get a bit of mileage out of this title. Even better, Neves is well suited to the Nintendo DS, since it’s the sort of game you can pick and play, then forget about for a while without having to keep mental notes on what you were doing.

Final Thoughts

   As puzzle games go, Neves is mediocre and it’s is eclipsed by many other titles in the genre, even Boxle. One thing that is commendable about this title is that it doesn’t try to emulate Tetris and puts a new spin on an old concept. It’s hard to imagine hardcore puzzle fans getting a lot out of Neves, however. Ultimately, this is a game that has been nearly forgotten, because it failed to stand out on a system that had some respectable and creative puzzle games, many of which crossed genre lines, making them appealing to broader range of gamers.

Recommendations

Neves does not have a lot to offer, but those who have played some of the better puzzle games on the Nintendo DS may want to look into this title for the sake of curiosity.

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