Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Discord button  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | PC | PS4 | PS5 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | XSX | All

Saira (PC) artwork

Saira (PC) review

"Nifflas makes a very specific kind of game. You can generally pick them out at a glance, it's the kind of game you can sum up in a single sentence. "

Nifflas makes a very specific kind of game. You can generally pick them out at a glance, it's the kind of game you can sum up in a single sentence.

"Everyone is gone, but where?"

Oh sure, there's a little more to it than that. Something about a teleporter accident in a sci-fi universe that left your title character stranded and alone in the galaxy, but that one sentence is all that you need.

The strongest aspect of Saira is that everyone's gone. There's an almost stifling sense of loneliness in this game, and it's not so simple as the plot saying all humans have disappeared. There aren't even many hostile creatures on the various planets you'll explore. But it's not the lack of hostile monsters that makes you feel alone either. It's the serenity of levels that could almost be characters themselves. It's a decrepit clock tower in the background, forever frozen at 12:15, and a thousand alien plants that waver silently in the wind. It's fireflies that seem to be made of the same lava they call home, harmlessly flitting about in the background.

Everything in the world somehow reminds you of the fact that you're basically the only person of consequence. The things you do are the only things being done. The effect is difficult to describe, but it's immediately noticeable. You feel like the last person alive, scratching about the remnants of vanished civilizations for the answer to what happened.

Perhaps its your camera. The game makes use of the ability to photograph clues in the background, which you can then use to solve puzzles elsewhere. Maybe the lack of life in your pictures is a subtle reminder that you have no one to help you. It's a fun mechanic, however, and at least you don't need to write down the long button combinations you'll find scratched into the rocks for later use.

Your greatest enemy is the environment itself, be it toxic gases limiting your exploration to frantic sprints between safe zones, or fiendish jumping puzzles suspended over molten endless pits. Gameplay itself focuses mostly on puzzle platforming with a pinch of exploration. The level design won't bore you with the "always to the right" philosophy of most platformers, but you can still complete each level as you arrive.

A myriad of varied gimmicks fight off stagnation. Each level has a theme, and they're all uniquely alien in appearance. In one level you might activate a number of sequential locks in a time limit. Others will have you collecting the answers to a quiz by taking pictures of the background. Sometimes you just have to not fall into the waiting jaws of some giant stationary monster.

The downside is that, you can't accidentally stumble onto something surprising because you aren't really free to just go wherever you want. The game actually tells you that you don't have to leave any given level to find clues or powers necessary to complete it. Indeed, you get no new powers at all, and it does hurt the sense of progression a bit. You just go from one level to the next until you finish the game. There's a mechanic in place that sort of lets you pick what order you'll do the levels in, but it's sort of just smoke and mirrors with respect to dispelling the linearity.

Dejected though I sound, it's hard to call this a flaw. It's something I miss from Nifflas's previous works, but given that the great majority of people haven't even heard of the guy, I don't think it's going to be deal breaking, especially for new players. This game has everything that makes Nifflas great. Imaginative level design, foreign visuals, tremendous ambiance, and the kind of soul you rarely see in the industry anymore. For $10, you could do far worse.

dragoon_of_infinity's avatar
Community review by dragoon_of_infinity (October 03, 2010)

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by dragoon_of_infinity [+]
Antipole (Xbox 360) artwork
Antipole (Xbox 360)

The gimmick is simple. Go to the right and win. You can jump, you can shoot, and you can invert gravity within a certain radius of the character. And that's it. There's no plot or villain, just you, a plasma rifle, and a hellish maze of circular saws, moving platforms, and angry robots.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PlayStation 2) artwork
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PlayStation 2)

Think back to a normal day in high school. Specifically, remember the routine. Every day, you wake up, you go to class, eat lunch, take tests, talk to friends, and do the same thing you've done a thousand times in real life. Yet through some trickery, it's actually a great game that excels in taking the mundane and mak...
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (PlayStation 3) artwork
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (PlayStation 3)

Somehow, this deceptively simple fighter with fewer than 10 moves per character has the depth of an ocean. Even the story mode is deceptively complicated, and all the more rewarding for it. Moreover, the combat is complex, and the characters are interesting in battle and out. Blazblue is a fighter of the highest calibe...


If you enjoyed this Saira review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

User Help | Contact | Ethics | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998 - 2023 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Saira is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Saira, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.