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Pneuma: Breath of Life Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While not without a few clever ideas, Pneuma: Breath of Life is a short game packed with forgettable puzzles. It also features a lead character who proclaims he's God and spends the rest of the game talking about it. Those who stick it out will be rewarded with one of this year's best twist endings. Rating: 57%
Pneuma: Breath of Life
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Pneuma: Breath of Life Pneuma: Breath of Life Pneuma: Breath of Life Pneuma: Breath of Life
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  • C+
In an industry so geared towards first impressions, I'm here to tell you that endings are important. Sure, the journey is what matters, but a great finish will stick with you long after the game has ended. That's the case with Pneuma: Breath of Life, the clever 3D puzzle game from developer Deco Digital. With a short run time and an obtuse design, I was ready to write off this PlayStation 4 game. But a surprisingly strong finish has left me second-guessing my convictions.

You play the opposite of a silent protagonist. As the nameless main character wakes up for the first time, he's mystified by his perceived power. In fact, he very quickly deems himself a God and spends the rest of the game vocally working through his existential crisis. He's amazed at the world he's created, and yet puzzled why every area seems to be testing his ability to problem solve.


Pneuma: Breath of Life is presented from the first-person perspective, but is not a shooter. You never have to pick up items or move boxes around; this game refuses to devolve into puzzle platforming. Your control over the world comes in other, less obvious ways. For example, many early puzzles require the player to make eye contact in order to open doors.

The game quickly expands on this concept by introducing a number of wrinkles to the sight test. You'll find that some lights can be turned on and off with a glance, while other obstacles can be altered depending on your perception. Most of the puzzles can be solved using little more than the player's sight, which is a cool (albeit limiting) approach to this type of puzzler.

Pneuma: Breath of Life ()Click For the Full Picture Archive

But sometimes this clever idea backfires, turning an otherwise peaceful experience into frustrating chaos. Because so many of the puzzles revolve around sight, it's far too easy to screw things up by simply looking around. There's one puzzle involving mismatched tiles that is especially nasty, if only because it feels like the game is working against you for no reason. Later, Pneuma tosses a few trial and error puzzles your way, something that always feels cheap.

Even when the puzzles are at their worst, the main character has a lot to say. The truth is, he spends most of the game rambling on about himself. He jumps to conclusions quickly and seems to skirt the important questions, all while you're just trying to figure out how to open the door and get to the next set of puzzles. I found his long diatribes to be more annoying than witty, but I stuck with them out of sheer curiosity.

Pneuma: Breath of Life ()Click For the Full Picture Archive

I'll confess, the set-up is admittedly compelling. When a character starts off by proclaiming he's God, you kind of want to see where the story goes. I was willing to put up with bland locations, simplistic puzzles and a short running time in order to see if it all pays off in the end. And if there's one good thing I can say, it's that Pneuma: Breath of Life sticks the landing. The twist is not only creative, but it helps justify the types of puzzles found throughout the 90 minute journey.

Unfortunately, an incredible reveal at the end may not be enough to warrant a purchase. The game is short and the puzzles aren't especially difficult. I also found the constant narration more annoying than endearing, though your mileage may vary. Pneuma: Breath of Life has a few clever ideas and a cool twist ending, but that's not enough for me to recommend this brief PlayStation 4 puzzler.
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