Playing with your food has always been a faux pas, but one that doesn’t translate to the digital space. Nour: Play With Your Food takes advantage of that exception and gives players the freedom to drop dozens of eggs into a void of nothingness, light ramen on fire, and stack burgers high enough to reach Earth’s outer atmosphere without fear of punishment. Nour uses the surreal to play with the very real draw of using food items as toys but doesn’t compile these fantasies into anything fulfilling.
Nour’s inability to provide any sort of gratifying experience stems from its lack of goals and floaty controls. Its 19 levels present some sort of food item or dining setting, and the D-pad and face buttons are tied to dropping random bits of food or silverware from the heavens. An array of tools and magic abilities lets players cause culinary chaos through fire, a shrink ray, or the power of dance.
But these tools do little to distract from how vapid Nour is. Dropping down 12 pancakes and then setting them ablaze is amusing for about 45 seconds, and there’s not much to do beyond that. The meals change with every stage, yet they’re all similarly fleeting. There are some hidden secrets that attempt to give it some depth, but most are too vague to figure out and do little to point the player in the right direction.
Cycling through its handful of scenarios gets old quickly because of its dearth of extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. Listlessly stacking pizza toppings with no tangible objective isn’t satisfying since there’s nothing meaningful to overcome or figure out. And even though it is meant to be a freeform, relaxing experience, its imprecise controls are needlessly stressful. Moving a tool or sloppy ball of food in a 3D space is tricky because there isn’t a clear way to differentiate between “up” and “forward” with a flick of the analog stick. The camera can also be a pain to deal with since it orbits around a central point and can obscure some parts of the area.
Nour’s food also just isn’t as reactive as it should be, which is another way it robs players of the satisfaction that should come from playing with digital food. Most of the plates, glass items, and condiment receptacles don’t break when struck. A lot of the food items are the same way, as most clearly demonstrated how eggs only look like lumpy potatoes after a few bashes with a meat tenderizer. Nour’s muted interactions are so far from the crunchy sound effects, detailed dismemberment, and dramatic explosions that should be front and center with a game like this. The bouncy soundtrack is full of chill vibes that interact with what’s going on, but it can’t provide all the necessary feedback by itself.
Nour: Play With Your Food Review: The final verdict
Despite being all about food, Nour is more akin to a stick of bubblegum. It seems nice from the outside but is a transient experience that is neither filling or long-lasting. The frustrating controls and utter absence of depth mean its flavor fades quickly and ironically leaves players with very little to chew on.
Disclaimer: This Nour: Play With Your Food review is based on a PS5 copy provided by the publisher. Played on version 1.000.000.