Early Access is one of those hot topics lately, because there is a bit of a show of faith by all parties involved. The development team has something tangible out there, and the hope is that they will use this time to really listen to and make use of feedback from fans who purchase the game in an early, unfinished state with the hope that eventually they wind up with a great game. Son of Nor is very early on, with plenty of rough edges, but they are actively seeking feedback from players and there is some serious potential here for when the game is completed.
Things kick off with some lengthy back story and a bit of a rough movie to help visualize it before we are thrown into a fantasy world where your character is a Son of Nor - consecrated by the Goddess of Night to help protect the human race from extinction. The backdrop is a decidedly desert/Egyptian one with a variety of lizards as the primary opponent in the early going.
While there is combat, this is by no means what Son of Nor is focused on, especially in the beginning. Your character has very little physical ability to speak of, running and jumping and... little else. Until you make use of their ability to manipulate the surrounding world via terraforming and telekinesis. This usually shows up in one of two primary ways, especially early on. With the telekinesis, you have the ability to pick up objects and move them around. This can mean picking up enemies, but also boulders. There is a degree of physics here as the boulders can be of varying sizes, and the larger they are - the greater their impact but the slower they move when you swing them to and fro. Often times larger boulders can be broken into smaller ones upon impact, which is pretty nifty in and of itself.
There is also a much nicer-looking ability that lets you pick up all loose, surrounding items and hurl them one after another at your targets. This is primarily how combat plays out, though I have also picked up and launched enemies at one another - or off of cliffs as well
The terraforming gets a little less use in the early going, but feels like it has the greater potential with some more polish. Certain types of terrain, such as sand, are malleable enough that they can be built upward into pillars or rising platforms, or burrowed into. These, combined with the ability to pick up objects (and leave them hanging in the air) allow for some pretty unique opportunities to platform and get to areas that might not otherwise be accessible.
The other thing I really liked right out of the gates is that there was both keyboard/mouse support as well as controller support. I found that using a controller was a lot easier overall, but it was nice to see that both were an option.
Unfortunately Son of Nor is still in very early stages. Visually, the overall engine does not impress with often stiff animations and fairly generic backgrounds. A little oddness occurs when walking around and seeing grass swaying/sliding across the ground, back and forth like there was supposed to be water there, for example. It feels like there will be more customization options for when one creates a character as well, but at this point it is pretty limited.
The AI seems pretty basic at this point as well. Early on enemies just stand around doing nothing while later - well, they do not seem a whole lot more engaged or interesting. Characters walk around the village, saying the same things repeatedly, but interacting with them can be a bit odd at first - and I accidentally smoked one while trying to help her with her quest early on. Turns out, while levitating said item, hitting the wrong button meant shooting it at her head as though it was fired out of a cannon. My bad - but that ruined that short fetch quest.
The story seems interesting enough that if they tighten up some of the controls (levitating can get a bit weird and jumping feels a bit too loose and floaty at times for my liking) and the AI while polishing up the visuals and working out the kinks along the way, Son of Nor could prove to be an interesting adventure. The two mechanics are a unique way of interacting with the world, and add a bit of strategy to combat and a puzzle element to overall exploration where I could easily see multiple methods of tackling problems, which I like.
The development team has shown to be very active so far in the process, and plan to support Oculus, Tobi eye tracking and Emotiv hardware. Lofty goals to be sure, but very cool if they pull it off. The slower pace and the current state of the game might turn off some Early Access users, but the potential for this game is there.
Preview by Nick