Nimbus Infinity PC Review
I have never played Project Nimbus, the game that Nimbus Infinity is classed as a direct sequel to. I am coming to this game from a general point of playing a few mecha games over the years, but not the one created by Thai indie developer GameCrafterTeam. Nimbus Infinity began as a Steam Early Access title back in February 2022 and over the course of a year and a few months has been releasing updates based on player feedback to refine the game ready for its full 1.0 release. Having never touched it during its Early Access lifespan, I went into Nimbus Infinity raw to see how its mecha action holds up, as mecha action games can be such an awesome blast to play. There is something incredibly cool about controlling a nimble hulk of metal and raining down destruction on the enemy.
The story begins on New Year’s Eve of 2099, with the player taking control of a delivery battle frame driven by Taiyo Iwata, a 17-year-old, fourth-year high school student who helps his mum’s business by delivering Tofu to customers through the use of a battle frame. It’s a similar story to Takuma Fujiwara in Initial D but instead a battle frame rather than an AE86 car and a mum for a dad. It made me chuckle, as even the words Gunma are mentioned during the first mission as well, which has to be a nod to that classic Japanese anime show. Taiyo is about to get back home after finishing a round of deliveries when a battle frame comes crashing near him, with two pilots inside injured and unable to continue their piloting. Taiyo is given the chance to take them to hospital in their battle frame but is caught in a conflict between the Japanese Defence Force and another force that is trying to recover this, which has now been revealed to be an experimental battle frame that can kick some serious ass. Taiyo, with his experience piloting battle frames from a young age, seems to have a knack for piloting this new battle frame – must be all the plastic cups with water in that helped him during tofu deliveries – and joins a faction after they come to take the battle frame into a safe place and help the injured pilots.
Most of the story is delivered through visual novel scenes, (still character portraits and art), and voiced dialogue. Quite a bit of dialogue is also done during the gameplay, as radio communications are bounced back and forth between enemies and teammates. It keeps the action having some meaning, but it is easy to miss the voices as things can get incredibly hectic in battle. The general plot is fine, a sort of collection of elements from various mecha anime, but it never goes above anything than feeling familiar. It’s the middle-of-the-road stuff overall. The downtime between missions is a way to interact with the characters and learn a bit more about them, but there is no dating or relationship game here.
The gameplay revolves around taking control of Warspite, the experimental battle frame that can be armed with up to three different weapon types (main weapon, sidearm, launchers), and a support type. These are selected at the start of each mission, along with being able to change their colour with an RGB selector. I am basic, so went with various shades of orange, red, blue, purple, and yellow for my weapons. This is the same in both the main campaign and the fun survival mode, which is a small additional game mode to jump into when there is a desire to blow up some mecha and see how long one can last, as the campaign itself is fairly short, around 4-5 hours.
Controls are straightforward, be it on the controller or keyboard. Warspite can be aimed with the mouse/right stick, and moved with the keyboard/left stick, with verticality controlled with two keys/buttons to adjust height. The issue I had with the controls was the lack of weight behind their movement. Everything feels weightless as if there is no resistance to moving the big hunk of metal around. Boosting, moving up and down, everything lacks momentum from the weight. This does mean that the battle frame is very agile, which helps, as the game’s combat is fast and reactive, which the lack of weight does contribute to reacting faster, but I cannot help but want to feel connected to the battle frame. I want to feel moving the mecha. I want that sense of boosting around to be met with a sense of force, and shooting its massive weapons should have an impact on my controls. It is like playing a shooter where the guns do not have any recoil or feedback behind them when firing, except replacing those guns with a giant mecha. It does not feel right, I feel disconnected from the movement on screen, a bit floaty and inaccurate.
Combat scenarios are similar to games like Ace Combat or the open areas of StarFox. Each mission is set within an open area of space, be it above a city, flying around the clouds or in the depths of space, there is an open space to move around in 360 degrees. Sadly, the levels are mainly for eye candy, as they never offer any sort of interaction or destruction, because battles can take part so high above the city skyline, there is never that sense of danger that a building could wipe out a player in the heat of battle.
Only one weapon is equipped at a time, with a button available to cycle through the equipped weapon types or reload before the ammo clip reaches 0. A default melee attack is accessible that does a lunge forward and hits with a sword slash, but these felt useless most of the time, as it was easier to use projectiles than melee, unless a fight required it, such as some of the tougher boss-like battle frames. There are three stances that the battle frame can switch between to adapt to scenarios. These are defence, speed and offence. Each one comes with a benefit within that named classification, such as defence allows for faster shield charging, while offence one has little drones that help attack targets. At first, it feels like these aren’t worth changing, but they do come in handy in the later scenarios where speed or defence can be the difference between losing that bit of health and surviving or blowing up into pieces.
Gameplay relies heavily on the target system. It is possible to free aim and try to hit enemies, but a lot of the time they move so fast and are in the distance that is near impossible to hit one accurately. The target system works by pressing a button to bring up a circle on the screen. Any enemy within this circle will be auto-targeted by your weapons, such as the large assault rifle, which will shoot bullets in an arc to hit the enemy. It does away with having to accurately aim and time shots, which in honesty, with the speed at which some of these enemies move around is not worth even trying.
Battling in Nimbus Infinity is what I would imagine mecha battles to be like, as missiles and bullets scattered the space, filling up with smoke trails and other bits of light as they travel around. Alarms buzz to say the danger is incoming, boosting out of the way in quick response, while big ships charge up their weapons and drop nukes in space, with warning signals and visual cues to show where the danger is. In that sense, the game does well in alerting the player, but the UI could be better both in battle with clearer and better text/video tutorial placements. The actual button prompts should be used instead of generic button names for the controller and keyboard. During the visual novel elements, there are clicking issues at points where it looks like it wants the player to click on an icon, but it comes with text straight away for the next required scene, so there was no need to show the UI for interactions until this part of the mandatory story scene was over. Little things like these spoil what is overall decent visuals when the game is in action.
Visual, Nimbus Infinity is a fairly nice-looking title that uses Unreal Engine 4. There is some good use of cloud tech, as these can obscure the battlefield with wonderful fluffiness when set to the maximum cloud resolution. Other elements are generic, such as some of the buildings in the city. One thing I did not like was the overload of visual effects. These were awful and I had no option but to turn them off. I am relating to mainly the lens flare, as this fills the camera view with so many lights that obscure not only the player’s vision but also rears its ugly head in cutscenes. Even on low, I did not like how it interrupted the visuals. Turning it off is much better. Speaking of graphical settings, there are a lot of settings that can be tuned between low to ultra. Having everything on ultra even managed to bring a 4090 to crawl, dropping under 60 fps when the action was hectic and flying through ultra clouds. Turning down clouds to medium seem to stop this frame rate drop, so I can only relate to the dense clouds being in such high detail that was causing these frame drops. These settings interrupted the gameplay too much that it was not worth leaving the setting on highest. Maybe the inclusion of upscaling/AI technology might have helped with this, such as DLSS or FSR. Even on medium, the clouds still are visually pleasing. I also had a couple of crashes during my campaign playthrough. I am not sure what caused those crashes, as they were out of the blue and both happened are different times within the game’s action.
Nimbus Infinity is a fun mecha fantasy that captures the high-octane battles of mecha anime. I think it is obvious the developers have a soft spot for mecha and anime in their references to other source materials and the design of this game. Nimbus Infinity has the speed and intensity of fighting in such capable battle machines, but the lack of weight to any of the actions leaves me disconnected from the madness that is displayed on the screen. This makes Nimbus Infinity feel strange to play, but it does make it offer a more arcade experience where the response is instant, so this is a kind of a double edge critique that some might not mind while others might find off-putting.
The campaign does offer interesting and thrilling combat scenarios at times. The ones that get straight into the action are great, but other times it can be a little too much with its bullet madness, but then on the other side, sometimes missions pan out the pacing and this shows the weakness with the controls and lack of weight within the game’s physics. Story mode is over quickly, leaving the survival mode or a harder difficulty in the story mode to test your skills, but with a pocket-friendly price of £11.39, it does not bust the bank for people who fixate on game length. In the end, Nimbus Infinity is an enjoyable mecha game that does not offer any surprises, but even with its issues, is fun enough for fans to jump into Warspite and blow up some stuff while waiting for the next big mecha action game to drop.