NAIRI: Tower of Shirin is an incredibly beautiful point-and-click puzzle adventure game for Nintendo Switch. Every single frame of this game is gorgeously animated, to the extent that anyone walking by would probably stop and want to watch you play it. It’s that pretty. Impressively, the story and puzzles are of similar quality. The only downsides—and they are big ones—are that the game ends on a massive cliffhanger, and there are serious softlock bugs present in the version we received for review.
Story done right
NAIRI is named for its eponymous heroine, a rich girl who must flee her home under cover of darkness after her parents are arrested for unclear reasons. She ends up making friends among the poor and adjusting to a new lifestyle. Nairi and all of her friends and enemies are memorable thanks to the fun, quirky writing. The narrative in general is handled well, never being heavy-handed with its “how the other half lives” theme, and it does not feel like just another bland “girl discovers her destiny” story.
However, NAIRI: Tower of Shirin is only the first part of a larger story, and this is never expressed to the player in advance. I felt so blindsided when the end credits started rolling because nothing in the game had been resolved yet! Temper your expectations for the story if you decide to give this game a whirl.
Adventure, your way
Gameplay is presented entirely in a traditional point-and-click adventure style, but there are several control schemes. You can control the game with a stick, or you can use Joy-Con motion controls to make it more like using a mouse; personally, I found motion controls to be too imprecise to be enjoyable. The best choice is to play the game handheld, because then you can use touch controls to do everything with precision. Well, mostly with precision. The truth is the controls are a bit finicky no matter how you choose to play.
There are other little annoyances too. There is no fast travel option, necessitating a lot of backtracking between areas. It’s also way too easy to leave an area accidentally by tapping the edge of a screen; I don’t know how much time I lost by leaving a screen when I only meant to examine an object.
Much of the game time is spent navigating Nairi’s city, advancing the story by interacting with the environment and satisfying various people’s needs. There are two major puzzle “dungeons” in the game though, and they are both excellent. Puzzles have such variety that it’s not easy to summarize, but a couple of them are complex enough that I took paper/pen notes and photos to help me crack them. No one puzzle is extremely hard, but many of them are tricky enough that I felt really satisfied after solving them. Puzzle lovers will have a good time with NAIRI.
However, in the review code of the game we received, serious softlock problems interrupted the experience. First, there is an art gallery in the game, but actually viewing the art softlocks the game because the on-screen “X” button to close the art does not work. You’re stuck on that screen until you reset the game. Even more seriously, late-game clues and ciphers used to solve the final game puzzles also softlock the game when you view them. That’s a grievous mistake that I have to assume will be patched soon, but still, what an oversight!
Buy NAIRI… but wait a couple weeks
NAIRI: Tower of Shirin is a gorgeous and entertaining puzzle adventure with charming characters. It lasted me, a puzzle novice, 8-10 hours, but mileage will vary. If you can forgive the awful cliffhanger ending, this is a game worth buying. But wait a couple weeks so the developer can fix the serious game-stopping bugs!
A review code was provided by the publisher.
NAIRI: Tower of Shirin9.99
- Incredibly beautiful hand-drawn art
- Satisfying, thoughtful puzzles
- Engaging, well-written narrative
- Memorable characters
- Multiple different control schemes
- Serious softlock bugs
- Finnicky controls
- Too easy to accidentally leave a screen
- Ends on abrupt, frustrating cliffhanger
- No fast travel option
Proofs Editor for Enthusiast Gaming. I’m a writer who loves Super Nintendo and Japanese role-playing games to an impractical degree. I have recently returned from living in South Korea.