Project Nomads Review

On paper Project Nomads looks like a creative blend of genres set in a unique and interesting environment.  The planet Aeres has exploded, leaving behind floating islands of rock.  The alien race responsible for the disaster, the Sentinels, are still up to no good as blowing up the planet wasn't satisfying enough.  You take on the role of one of three mercenaries, or Nomads, who must end the alien threat and rescue the other two mercenaries along the way.

Your island base.

The game plays as an action/strategy hybrid.  Your floating island becomes your base of operations, and you can use "artifacts" you encounter in your travels to build structures on your island.  Each artifact is good for one structure, so finding a turret artifact allows you to place a gun turret on your island.  You manage your island from the third-person perspective of your character, running around your island to fix structures, man defensive guns, or steer the island.

You won't be a prisoner on your island, though.  As the game progresses you'll have the opportunity to leave your island on foot and explore other islands looking for artifacts and battling the Sentinels.  You'll also have the chance to man an aircraft in defense of your island and fly among the clouds and islands.

The game begins on a decided high note.  The opening cinematic reveals the world of Aeres and renders its floating islands with some gorgeous graphics.  Lighting, textures, models, everything looks great.  Watching the three heroes fight their way through an aerial ambush will fill you with anticipation at the prospect of exploring Nomad's compelling world and leave you itching to begin play.  Unfortunately it won't take too long for those expectations to come crashing down to Earth.

As a game with several different facets of play, you would think that the developers could get at least one of them right.  Sadly this is not the case.  You'll notice the problems with the game's third-person mode on the very first levels.  There is no strafing movement, only turns, so lining yourself up to move through gaps, onto ledges, or across bridges is a frustrating exercise in running in little circles (literally).  Your character can't jump, instead being equipped with a jetpack.  The jetpack is hard to control and seems to randomly determine how far it will send you, so jumping onto small obstacles is entirely too difficult.  To further compound your frustration, the clipping and collision detection are not implemented quite correctly and you'll sometimes get stuck and need to spin around a few times before you can get moving again.

Later in the game you will need to explore other islands to gain more artifacts for your base.  This is when you'll encounter enemies that must be dispatched with "spells".  The spells amount to a couple of offensive weapons that can be used to dispatch the brain-dead enemies whose attack strategy is to charge at you until you kill them.  The game's control issues make collecting artifacts and making your way through an occasional jumping puzzle to be more tedious than entertaining.

The game's central gameplay mode, managing your island base, also quickly becomes tiresome due to gameplay issues and poor level design.  You move your island by entering a control tower, but your control is limited to turning the single-speed engines on or off as you move between preprogrammed waypoints.  You can't even look around while up there; your view is locked straight ahead.  If you come under attack while "flying" your island, you must exit the tower, quickly orient yourself, and then go loping off to the nearest gun installation.  If the gun is on a rise, then you get to struggle with the jet pack trying to reach it.  If other installations on your island are taking too much damage (there's no way to see the damage level so you have to guess), then you must run to the installation, click on it, select "repair" from the menu, and then run back to the gun or control tower.  Sound like fun?