A single-player surveillance mystery. Record the squirrels, report your findings, and piece together what’s really going on in Melmoth Forest.
Reviewed on: PC
Also available for: Nintendo Switch, iOS
Cast: Almut Schwacke
Developer: Joon, Pol, Muuutsch, Char & Torfi
Game Design & Development: Joon Van Hove
Art: Pol Clarissou
Writing & Narrative Design: Cherlene Putney
Level Design: Torfi Ásgeirsson
Squirrel surveillance may not sound like the most exciting job, but only because you’ve never worked squirrel surveillance. As Nuts proves, those little critters have many secrets, possibly a wealth of knowledge to share and they’re dastardly sneaky. Anything but a tedious job that’s for sure.
You’ve just travelled to Melmoth Forest as a rookie filed researcher. Your job is to place cameras around the forest and use them to track the local squirrels, discover what they’re up to, and report back to your superior. At first, this all seems fairly straight forward as you track a squirrel back to its collections of nuts, but things quickly get weird. Your next subject appears to be hoarding some dynamite, and then signs of a conspiracy begin to appear. Your straight forward job is being made harder by outside forces trying to cover up what’s happening in the Melmoth Forest.
By the time you reach the credits, you may be thinking “whoah, what the hell just happened?” Which would be an appropriate response. The narrative seems to come out of nowhere and although there’s a heavy ecological message, it never truly grabbed me. Even If you don’t care to follow along for the conspiracy plot, Nuts is still an enjoyable 3-4 hour experience with unique gameplay elements.
You start with just one camera and a GPS but quickly move up to three lenses at your disposal. Each on a tripod and the heads can be rotated after you place them down. Using your GPS, you find the starting location of a squirrel and then set up your cameras however you see fit to track its movements. When you head back your trailer and press record, you’ll skip to night time where you can rewind and pause the tape and look at each camera view as you track the squirrel through the forest.
Tracking the squirrels is neither repetitive enough to be boring nor a big brainbuster to be considered a puzzle. It’s a task that’s at its most exciting as you watch the tape back at night. Several times I’d see a squirrel run off into the one spot I hadn’t covered with a camera and swear under my breath. Or I’d be leaning forward on my desk to spy a squirrel off in the distance, attempting to see which direction it came from, so I knew where to place my cameras the next day. I would have called the squirrels cheeky several times over by games competition as they climbed into or over objects I didn’t allow for with my camera set-up.