It’s hard to find a video game that doesn’t depict violence in one way or another. While violent games are popular and have their place, it’s nice to see a recent trend towards nonviolent, peaceful experiences. Minneapolis based developer DevNari (a portmanteau of developers Dev Jana and Ari Carrillo) have adopted the philosophy of nonviolence for their games, all in the aim to makes those who play them happier. Recently featured at Chicago’s own VGA Gallery, and winner of numerous accolades accumulated over the course of development, DevNAri’s debut release Newt One accomplishes their nonviolent goal and manages to be colorful, serene fun.
You play as Newt, a “new tone” in a world based around music. The task has fallen to Newt, along with his horned friend Curno, to awaken the world from its gray slumber and save the elders. To accomplish this, Newt must navigate platforms, collect items, and avoid hazards. Each flower, tree, or tile you touch lights up with brilliant color. Items you collect will help speed up this process, but you must navigate each level to awaken it, find the exit and accumulate any collectibles. Progression “wakes up” the world with color, and as you wake up more of the world around you the music also “wakes up.”
Music plays a heavy role in Newt One, and it is as vibrant and colorful as the world it was made for. The more the world awakens around you, the more instruments and other nuance join into the soundtrack. There are four unique worlds, each represented by its own song. The music in Newt One is extremely charming and infectious in the most wholesome way. I would love to have the soundtrack accompany me throughout my day, but I can’t find a way to purchase it on its own. I’m hoping that will change!
Each of the four worlds in Newt One is made up of six levels. You can replay levels when you complete them to try to get a better completion time, or grab any collectibles you might have missed. Many times games with an artistic slant end up missing the fun—Newt One is surprisingly fun. Not only it is a joy to play, there are numerous costume swaps and a delightfully wholesome story told through non-animated interstitials. It’s hard not to like Newt One.
If I had any complaints, I would have to mention the controls. Everything tends to feel little “floaty” and imprecise. Often I would find myself failing platforming sections due to the nature of the controls, and not the jump itself. It also feels like Newt is constantly on ice and ready to slide off of everything. Luckily, Curno’s help is a button press away, and even falling into a hazard does no more than whisk you to nearby safety. No death or failure screen and you’re quickly able to retry where you previously failed. This removes the stress of failure, making for a happier experience. An actual controller is recommended over using the mouse and keyboard—luckily the game natively supports quite a few different types.
Newt One is pleasant and lovely. It’s a cute little adventure through a world of music and color with just the right amount of platforming challenge. It’s a friendly introduction to video games or a peaceful diversion for those who want a little less violence in a world where we are sometimes surrounded by it. Wake up the world from the gray slumber in Newt One, available now, right here.