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Video Game / NaissanceE

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NaissanceE is a first-person exploration and puzzle video game produced by French developer Limasse Five and released in 2014. In the prologue, its protagonist, Lucy, is chased down a long corridor by something. As brief glimpses of this glitchy beast appear, Lucy is forced down a hole by the creature and into an unknown landscape filled with Malevolent Architecture and a growing sense of dread. The player's only goal is to continually explore this world as they try to make heads or tails on how to get out of this strange place.

The game relies on platforming, and has a breathing mechanic: as Lucy sprints, the player needs to control her breathing to continue sprinting. This encourages the player to keep a rhythm in an otherwise safe environment, to survive the puzzles.

Released on Steam, the game was at first a small pet-project to use architecture that was alive, as its schtick. After a few years, it was re-created in UDK and is now available on Steam.


Tropes to explore in NaissanceE:

  • Advancing Boss of Doom: The finale has The Host uprooting the architecture that you run through in order to obliterate you.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The turbine tunnels include one fan at the back that will speed up enough to suck you in if you take too long.
  • Alien Geometries: There are several spots in the game where Euclidian geometry goes out the window:
    • One doorway in "Going Down" that leads to a short drop will teleport you onto the stairs beside it. Climbing those stairs to the top, where there is a solid wall, will put you back in the doorway to the right of that wall.
    • One apartment door in "Going Down" leads into a small corridor filled with doors. The door immediately on the right, on the far right wall of the room, takes the player down a hallway that connects to a door on the far left of the room, even though it makes a quick right and then left. Another door on the left side ignores the rest of the building that the player is in, instead leading into an enormous, empty room. Running in any direction in the void will eventually return the player to the doorway they came from.
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    • "Deeper Into Madness". There's the beginning, where it's implied that whatever this place is, it's trying to screw with your head. Later in that section, a tower in a room to the side has many windows leading down into a void; whichever one you jump into, you'll appear in the topmost one when you turn around. After that, it all goes to heck.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Fail the early jumping puzzle in which one must follow the light across five jumps enough times, and sections of the wall will expand to reduce the jumps to four and to greatly expand the footing area.
  • Beautiful Void: A gorgeous Used Future with nary a person in sight.
  • Bizarrchitecture: If you've ever wanted to play through a Tsutomu Nihei illustration, then this is the game for you. The game is built on this trope, but these set pieces stand out:
    • The entirety of "Going Down", which includes apartment buildings embedded along the sides of a miles-wide trench; barely supported catwalks and staircases; and doors and lamps in places that make sense, but are just off.
    • The entirety of "Deeper Into Madness". Highlights include running through multiple iterations of the same room with a slight tilt added each time, rooms that are only seen in blinding flashes of black or white, and a graceful tornado of cubes over a mirror.
    • "Interlude" has an unlit staircase with no guard rails leading upwards into pitch black that the player must ascend for a full two minutes (at sprinting speed) to continue.
  • Boléro Effect: The score in the finale of "Breath Compression" grows louder and more complex as you progress through the course.
  • Breather Episode: "Interlude" is one, after the Nightmare Fuel that is "Deeper Into Madness".
  • Death Course: "Breath Compression" becomes this as you progress, right from electrified walls to fans that speed up to cut you in half and an Advancing Wall of Doom.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: There are no surface textures in the game; every object is a flat grey, and almost all light sources are stark white. Colors are few and far between, and very muted; but after traversing miles of grey corridor, even a faint blue or yellow is striking by comparison.
  • Diegetic Interface: There's virtually no interface at all, which fits since you're an unequipped person roaming ancient ruins. However, the game's sprint-breathing mechanic flashes a circle when you need to trigger a breath, even this, though, can be turned off.
  • Drone of Dread: Played with. The score is made up of licensed modern classical pieces, which invoke this. Selections from Pauline Oliveros' album Deep Listening — which featured a trombone, accordion, voice and metal pieces played in a massive man-made cistern — contains low brassy drones; other pieces, by Patricia Dallio, originally composed for modernist dance pieces, are more ethereal: warm and bright, yet unnerving. Both composers' selections oscillate between ease and unease throughout the game.
  • Easter Egg: The game has a few hidden throughout the landscapes, including a hidden (and still uninhabited) strip club; an Animusic-like segment that tells a Meet Cute story; a bedroom with no gravity; and a hallway that quits the game on you if try to pass the warnings that it gives you to stop.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights:
    • The game has sections that hide moving light sources in dark rooms behind grates, so that the lights flicker in near-random patterns across all surfaces. A section near the beginning, and the "Light or Darkness" platforming puzzle, are the best examples.
    • An optional puzzle in the desert cycles the player's viewpoint through a pristine fortress all in white; a black void with only the fortress' blueprints on the floor; and the dilapidated ruins of the fortress that the player approaches to start the puzzle. As the player gets closer to the end point of the maze, the strobing between these three view points increases dramatically.
  • Fade to Black: Instead of a loading screen, each section of the game fades to black and back quickly before returning the player to gameplay.
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • The only way out of the endless staircase is to stand still and wait for the deep, thudding noise to speed up and open the door for you.
  • Fake Difficulty: The turbine sections present the player with spinning fans, which, while they should only cut you if you walk into them, have a chance of randomly flinging you into the air, killing you.
  • Falling Damage: The easiest way to lose a level is to fall from a height: falling over a certain distance will cause instant death, and some depths are so great that you just keep falling indefinitely until the game kills you. There are some heights that will cause injury without death, where the edges of the screen turn red and will gradually recover if you don't aggravate the damage.
  • Hint System: There is a shrine in "Endless Dive" that tells you how to complete the stage, as the way out goes against the logic that the game has shown the player thus far.
  • Interface Screw:
    • When you fail to breathe properly, and continue to do so, the screen will become hazier and hazier, simulating someone running out of breath.
    • An Easter Egg room slows the player's movements to a crawl and gives their jumps much less gravity.
    • In "Deeper Into Madness", you keep running through rooms that look identical, watching the gameplay speed up till you fall down one last hole and get to progress onwards.
    • The "Light or Darkness" puzzle (see Unwinnable by Design below.)
  • It Only Works Once:
    • "Breath Compression" has large sections where one must complete each platforming section right the first time; otherwise, the large turbine behind the player will turn on, suck them into it and kill them.
    • The finale features the architecture that the player must run through being pulled away and destroyed by The Host, so running as fast as possible is really the only solution.
  • Lighter and Softer: The "Endless Dive" segment is a much-needed break from all of the darkened rooms and hallways. It even has some charming and even heartwarming Easter Eggs in it, which is a good source of levity before the intense finale.
  • Malevolent Architecture: A lot of the cubicle environment changes to help you at times, but some of it will also try to kill you.
  • Mickey Mousing:
    • The finale of "Breath Compression", which requires you to keep moving or die, is synced to the score.
    • The final sequence is synced to Thierry Zaboitzeff's "Prométhée Part IIf". Again, failing to move will kill the player.
  • No Ending: The player awakens The Host, the glitch monster from the introduction. A vicious chase that destroys the landscape ensues, ending when the player passes through a white door. The text "The Beginning"note  appears and the credits roll.
  • Non Standard Game Over: It's possible to get trapped inside the cube tornado in "Deeper into Madness", as it forms around the light cube that the player must touch, which sits atop the pile of other cubes.
    • Played with in the endless staircase. Players may quit thinking that there's no way out of this side room, but they actually need to stand still for roughly a minute while a machine audibly whirrs up to free them.
  • No OSHA Compliance: There are stairwells over chasms with no rails and giant lit pits that lead only to death. There's no glass to be found in any windows. It can take over ten seconds to fall to one's death in some areas.
  • Obvious Beta: Fiddly response from the game sometimes make the game harder then it should be. The sparse checkpoints made it worse until the developer saw his game's Steam forum beginning to expel jets of steam, making a prompt patch that added more checkpoints.
    • The game's mechanics also require a constant 60FPS frame rate in order to jump as intended. This is a requirement to actually complete the final stage of the game, as acknowledged by the director.
    • There are times around areas with lots of doors, that the room(s) beyond the door(s) will blink out for a split second when spinning the camera. This would indicate to a savvy and sharp player that the doorframe is really a portal to a distant room and is made to look like the rooms connect properly, but the game just blinks regardless of whether or not that mechanic is actually in use.
  • Off the Rails: Averted. While some sections of the game seem to be large enough to allow multiple paths to the end destination, there is only one real path throughout the game, small shortcuts nonwithstanding. (To be fair, this is spelled out on the game's website.)
  • One-Woman Wail: Deep Listening Band's song "Seven-Up" is this, and is used to great effect as part of the score.
  • Ontological Mystery: Lucy is lost, somewhere. Why they were being chased by a giant voxel monster is unknown from the start, as well.
  • Precursors: Who, exactly, made the structures you're crawling around, in and on? Surely not humanity as we know it.
  • Serial Escalation: "Breath Compression" introduces turbines that the player must run across. While the first few have blades just taller than the player, the area gradually expands until the turbines have larger diameters than football stadiums.
  • Sinister Geometry: It's implied that the world and/or The Host is intentionally trying to impede Lucy's progress from the halfway point onward, when a wall actually closes the path ahead before audibly grumbling and letting Lucy pass. Before this point, only Lucy's own dumb luck caused her to die; after this point, there are things that can maim and outright kill her.
    • The shtick behind "Deeper into Madness".
    • The finale includes the entirety of the architecture rotating and eventually being consumed by the Host, requiring the player to move very quickly.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: Thierry Zaboitzeff's "Prométhée part 2f" plays during the final sequence. The song itself starts speeding and pitching upwards as part of the original composition, which the action syncs up with.
  • Stable Time Loop: There's the possibility that After waking The Host at the end of the game and entering a white doorway, Lucy ends up in the hallway that she was seen running down in the game's intro cutscene.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: To get past the Puzy gate, you must follow a pair of light orbs through their respective gauntlets. There's just enough light in the area that it's possible to reach the end of the section, but if you do so without the lights, the way back will be closed off and it will be impossible to retrieve the lights and open the gate.
  • Unnecessarily Large Interior: "Going Down" and "Endless Dive" contain two unfathomably large areas that seem to keep expanding in every direction. "Interlude" peaks back into a similar structure to that featured in "Going Down", only this area has a staircase in pitch black darkness that takes roughly two real-time minutes to ascend into the next area.
  • Unwinnable by Design: "Light or Darkness" presents two rooms where the player must navigate a catwalk that includes jumps and dips. The only problem is that the room is in complete darkness, except for lights that both flicker and move around. The title of the puzzle comes in when the player can choose the black room with flickering white light, or the negative image - the white room with flickering black lights. Furthermore, the depth of field is limited here, making everything past a few feet blurry. If one's eyes can take the strain, it's only a question of knowing which path to take and where one can safely fall.
  • Violation of Common Sense: After all nine million falls that could have killed the player earlier, the way out of "Endless Dive" is to actually jump off the side of the map into the abyss. In case one doesn't believe this, a statue in the center of the map tells the player to do this.