Pneuma: Breath of Life is an enthralling first person MYST-like puzzle/mystery game, in which you witness the birth of yourself as god Pneuma. As a god, you can complete puzzles by simply observing things or by manipulation, making the game all about perception and observation. Pneuma in ancient Greek means breath but in religious terms it means god or soul, This game is a mix of both with religious references and Greek lettering. So if you like games such as MYST or the more recent PS Plus title Ether One you will definitely love Pneuma: Breath of Life.
You play as Pneuma, who has an amazing happy go lucky, easy to listen to British accent (I could listen to it all day!). Pneuma frequently makes comments throughout the game often asking you philosophical questions and generally being comical all the way through. The only main mechanic in this game is sight, something we all take for granted. The game is all about this sense, hence the observation part of the game. Because Pneuma is a god and gods don’t need to touch anything to make things happen, the manipulation is all in the eyes!
So some puzzles have sensors, and sometimes all you need to do is stare at them to open gates or doors. In some instances even staring at doors or gates doesn’t open them, and they instead will open if you turn away. As you progress, the puzzles will become a little more mind-bending, thus requiring you to keep track of certain numerical or Greek lettering to progress. If you look away, the puzzle will automatically reset, and you will have to begin again right from the start. Some puzzles will involve your perception, and these will involve puzzles with light and shadows that require you to look at objects from a certain position to open the way.
If players get stuck, all they need to do is listen to Pneuma’s monologues since you will get tips and sometimes the full answer in a cryptic sort of way. I have managed to solve some tougher puzzles just by listening to him. The game had a fantastic orchestral score, but I recommend turning it down so you can hear Pneuma at all times. Oh, and activate the subtitles as well, so you don’t miss any of the info!
Pneuma: Breath of Life was made with the Unreal Engine 4, and boy does it show! The graphics are some of the prettiest I have ever seen. They’re very life-like, and the attention to detail is absolutely first class. The setting pays homage to its Greek heritage with marble flooring and gold stairs that shine. The outdoors is mesmerizing, featuring absolute fantastic scenery just begging to be explored, and you are indeed free to explore in-between puzzles to take a look around you. It really is breathtaking.
The puzzles are well designed, and I loved the “sight” mechanic. Yes, we can all see games, but to play a game that expects you to purely observe your surroundings? There aren’t many games that force you to do that, not even the likes of MYST or Ether One. So, full marks for originality!
The game has six chapters, including the prologue. Depending on the player, Pneuma: Breath of Life will take you three to four hours to complete. It might be a short game, but the level of polish makes it worth your time and money.