The clue’s in the name of Nour: Play With Your Food. You literally play with your food. There’s no rhyme or reason; no purpose to anything you do. You just… play with food. According to its Steam description, it’s “an interactive exploration into the aesthetics of food”. Yeah, something like that, anyway. It’s safe to say that Nour is not going to be for everyone, but if you like the idea of messing around in twenty-odd miniature food-themed sandboxes, you might get a kick out of this.
You’re given a brief tutorial as you start up Nour: Play With Your Food, but you’ll pick up most of the interactions as you go along. Each “level” of the game – neither ‘levels’ or ‘a game’ is the right terminology here, at all, but we’ll go with it – gives you a certain food, and by pressing buttons you can make more of it appear. One level sees you rain pizza bases and various toppings from the sky, for example, while another throws breakfast pancakes, syrup and bacon down on a diner-themed table.
But there’s more to Nour than just slapping food on a plate. Some levels are more artistic in design, with a grid of toasters you can pop at will, or a vending machine you can fiddle around with. But you also have a suite of tools – and what Nour calls ‘magic’ – at your fingertips. Whip out a knife and get chopping, or let yourself loose with a blowtorch. You can even grow or shrink things.
There is something of a gamified element here, in that there are achievements to earn by unlocking rhythms. By dropping food in a certain order and in time to a beat, you can unlock combos but this is poorly explained in the game – and seems to have little purpose. You’re going to have most fun just, well, causing cuisine-based chaos.
The problem is that, as nice as Nour: Play With Your Food looks – and it looks really nice for the most part, with many of its food items looking ultra-realistic – it’s not all that polished in other ways. When you’re making yourself a nice, refreshing drink, fruit clips through your glass. On another level, you’ll accidentally knock a mug over, and it’ll clip through the table. On the pizza level, our pizza base would glitch through our plate.
The physics don’t work as they should, either, with actions not giving the desired effect. Hitting an egg with a mallet would surely crush it. No; here, it just slightly changed the shape of it. And hovering a blowtorch over an ice cream sundae made no effort of melting it; it just gave it a strange, shiny sheen. Huh. It also doesn’t help that the controls are simply awful: using tools is incredibly haphazard and trying to have any semblance of control over where food lands is a tall ask.
Nour: Play With Your Food is nice to look at, and we imagine some people will get a kick out of the zany, experimental playground it offers. But while it’s an experience that’s meant to be messy – creating a big, foodie mess is part of the fun, if not all of the fun – it’s also messy in ways it shouldn’t be, with bad controls, poor physics and actions just not working as they should. Without those issues being addressed, it’s just not as immersive or as enjoyable as it should be.
Nour: Play With Your Food is available on PS4, PS5 and PC.