Niman Legends: BrightRidge [$0.99] isn’t going to wow you with an impressive visual engine or keep you enraptured with an epic tale of good vs evil. However, BrightRidge does do one thing that keeps it interesting to any that check it out: Exploration. Focusing entirely on its open world environment and the locations (and secrets) it holds, BrightRidge does just enough right to keep the rest of the game worth playing.

From a gameplay perspective, BrightRidge is relatively simple. There’s no experience or inventory system, combat is incredibly basic (and completely optional) and supplementals like skills or magic are no where to be found. While superficially BrightRidge looks like an open-world action RPG a la Ravensword, it’s really not an action-RPG at all. This is important to note up front because folks picking it up expecting such a game are likely to be incredibly disappointing.

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Where BrightRidge does work is in its open world exploration. Simply put, the world in BrightRidge is large, full of variety, and offers a lot of hidden locations that act as rewards for exploration. Wonder a forest and come across a small inn — explore a mountain-side and come across an abandoned tower. While objectives are completely optional, speaking with the denizens of BrightRidge will eventually lead you to some overarching explorative missions that offer some reward. Likewise, there’s little in terms of a formal mission structure, although you an objective most players will want will be to gain the power of flight, which is pretty awesome.

In addition to exploration, BrightRidge invests a lot in ambience that, while seeming small, adds a lot to an open world that is lacks objective. The world is littered with animals that not only some life to the region but can also be used for additional exploration via the ability to ‘SpiritView,’ which lets you see through the eyes of nearby animals. Even the oceans have its own residents to keep you company. Also, while the visuals aren’t top-notch, they are still impressive enough to add to that air of exploration and being lost in a different world.

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It all leads to an interesting experience placing expiration over anything else in a fantasy setting. Put on some headphones, block out the rest of the world, and it’s not too hard become enraptured in BrightRidge. It’s one of the few games I’ve played that actually succeeds in making exploration an objective and reward in itself. It’s a solitary experience that offers some reflective moments for players willing to participate.

As mentioned above, it’s not hard to get into simply exploring the beauty that is BrightRidge, but there’re certainly a lot of minor issues that detract. Concepts that most players would take for granted like decent collision detection, running, jumping and decent camera movement. Other issues such as repetitive music take away from some of that excellent ambience I refer to earlier. Finally, while self-exploration is obviously the goal of the game, it would have been nice to have more of a hint system or some kind of system for motivating players to further explore.

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In some ways, it’s hard to appreciate what BrightRidge offers without the requisite action-RPG motif that typically accompanies open world exploration titles. True, I think BrightRidge has the potential to be an excellent full-fledged action RPG, but I also think it’s unfair to try and wish those traits on a game that doesn’t necessarily want to be that type of experience. As it stands, BrightRidge is all about exploration, and in this regard it does just enough to succeed. There’s a whole world waiting to explore in BrightRidge and I think it’s worth checking out.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • kevin8977

    This is the rating it deserves until questing, leveling up, etc. are incorporated.

    • protopop

      Thanks for the feedback kevin - There's some updates in the works now. 1.1 brought ipad support and texture/speed improvements. 1.2 and 1.3 are bringing some new mechanics like jumping (i always said you should be able to jump in any game then didn't put it in mine - so that will be a personal favorite to add in). 1.4 is bringing some quests and 1.5 will have MFI and Android support (Ive played the game on android Nexus 5 and it looks great, and played it with MFI hooked up to the TV and that was a real eye opener about how mobile will replace consoles and/or rather small consoles will appear beside mobile)

      • kevin8977

        Awesome! Can't wait

  • Hypocrypha

    Oh a review! Cool! I gotta say, not only is this game and amazing love child of a solo developer in his spare time, and a steal for .99 cents USD with no IAP, but this dude is the most interactive, listening, open participant dev I've seen on these threads over the years. A real neat guy with clear goals and solid story/mythos, and he absolutely outdoes himself. When BrightRidge was first released, many gave poor reviews due to it only working on higher devices. This dev ProtoPop went on a campaign to warn people not to buy it if they had an iPad mini or 4S bc how Apple doesn't let you select which devices are compatible, and patiently explained in detail each and every time someone complained, as to why it only works on A6 and above chips, as if it were the first time being asked. Seriously a gentleman with a vision, fulfilling his dream. All that to say, he did what he felt was the impossible. He researched and tweaked and when he thought and posted how it doesn't really look like it can be made to work on iPads, the first update now works on iPads and 4S. He makes an amazing app, and pushes himself to over deliver while he learns on the go. What a neat guy. What an amazing .99 experience!

    • Nekku

      Great post!
      This Dev really knows what he's doing when it comes to optimization for older and newer (A7) devices. He did this by himself. One man. Just think of it, big companies with probably hundreds of employees aren't able to do this, still. Hah.
      Visuals aren't top-notch generally speaking - yes. But for an mobile open world game with impressive landscapes, they are top-notch, no doubt.

      • Hypocrypha

        For me it's the feeling you get just walking around, the sounds, just needed another open world that's just to experience without a bunch if what I call "noise" ie adventures, battles etc. Tho the dev says in update 1.4 there will be some quests and some combat I believe. And he always comes through in spades with what he says he's gonna do. Very impressed.

        I just can't wait for the "cave" that's comin.
        Remember, this is "part one". If you look at his website, the huge map and THOROUGH STORY this reviews kinda didn't give credit for, is being brought to ios in parts due to it's immense size. Wish I had his web link to share right now. It's on the TA thread tho.

      • Hypocrypha

        Let me add I think this was a really old review btw. But dang I'm gonna need to look thru the thrash for the link up his website. Quite impressive. Oh and jumping is coming in an update as well. The conversation on the tread is great.

      • protopop

        Thanks Nekku:) I learned a lot about optimization in a short time. Partly because so many people were upset (which pushed me in a good way) and I also learned the importance of supporting earlier devices if possible. Since i updated the game to version 1.1 more people have had a better experience with it. I'm working carefully to try and make sure the updates are as backwards compatible as possible without ruining the 'bells and whistles' we want to see on newer devices. it helps that update 1.2 will have quality settings that will let you turn on/off effects for better speed vs detail. the quality panel was something I didnt think to include at launch, and it's been all the feedback that's helped me see things differently and realize how it can help. That feedback includes your kind words on the forum - thanks!

    • protopop

      Hypocrypha it's so great to have you in my corner:) These are some really kind words and I appreciate them more than you know.

  • Lemmonz

    I'll stick with Ravensword, I need a little more depth.

    • Hypocrypha

      That what I like about this game, it's an experience. Tho the Deb just posted he's got sons plans for update 1.4 with more quests and some combat. If you look at his website version of the game, it's a full deep interactive story and gorgeous map. But it's so huge he had to break it down into 4 parts for the ios app. This is part one. Part two comes out on update version 1.5 he says. And he always does what he says if you read my review. Great guy and well worth a buck.

      • Lemmonz

        Oh, well then I might just have to keep this then!

    • protopop

      I liked Ravensword too Lemmonz. I was so impressed that the dev was basically bringing Skyrim to mobile:) He had a great vision about what could be accomplished. Not only did he think outside the box, but he actually delivered real content, and on a system that, especially at the time, didn't seem possible to support a game with that kind of vast scope. i definitely count it among my inspirations for mobile design - you have great taste:)

  • EZ Ice

    Like to try this on my iPad2....any plans devs?

    • protopop

      A warning EZ - It's crashed on quite a few iPad 2s and the feedback I've been getting says they restart the iPad 2 then it will work. I don't officially support A5 devices because they have 512mb RAm, which is usually where he crashing comes from. So if you have a newer A6 or higher device I definitely recommend trying it on one of those. That said, version 1.0 didn't work at all on A5 so there;'s been some progress, and quite a few players and myself have been able to run the game on A5s (with reduced detail and textures).

      In addition to new mechanics and quests, the update will include optimizations so im hoping to make performance even smoother on all devices.

  • Hypocrypha

    We still need a separate thread some of us feel for all the secret sharing for this game and directions to cool stuff, but that's beyond my TA member skillset.

  • protopop

    Hi Eric, I was thrilled and surprised to see Nimian Legends : BrightRidge reviewed on Touch Arcade. I’ve been coming here to read reviews for years and I never thought I’d see one of my own games here. Thank you for taking the time to write about it.

    I especially like that you emphasized the exploration aspect of it. The more I work on it the more encouraged I am to develop the exploration part because the world design is what I really love to do. I’m working on updates that will bring some new mechanics and some quests too. There's valuable critical feedback in your review too that will help me make a better game.

    As a solo developer it’s the feedback from the fans (as well as the app sales) that keep pushing me forward. My goal is to be able to support myself through game design so that i can focus on it 100% of the time, and really flesh out some of the ideas I have properly. I’m nowhere near that yet, but having this review in my pocket is a huge encouragement that makes me think this is worth pursuing. I mean, I know it’s good to pursue your passion, but this is an extra boost that makes it seem it’s possible.

    I promise to continue to work hard on the updates, and would also like to thank Touch Arcade for the really great forum. It was here that things first got some traction, and the people in the forum have been super supportive and it’s felt like a safe place to post ideas, gather feedback and develop the game. Thank You:)

    • JPhilipp

      Cool! May I ask which engine you are using?

      • protopop

        Thanks JPhilipp - I'm using Unity, it's really flexible, kind of reminds me of Flash in that if you can think of it, you can probably do it:)

      • JPhilipp

        Great! Out of curiosity, do you use JS in it? We're contemplating using JS in it for compatibility with another project. Best of luck to your game, the exploration aspect sounds so cool!

      • protopop

        I use JS because I use it in my HTML5 too - so far i haven't seen anything you can't do in JS that you can do in c#, but I did notice that some assets from the asset store use c# natively, so you'll want to check that out, and from what i gather (although im no expert) c# seems to be favored by more 'hard core' programmers and it sounds like it's faster in some situations. Thanks for the well wishes, and if you have any projects you'd like to share just let me know - i'd love to take a look:)

  • madmaxmedia

    I really like the idea of a more open-ended exploration experience, rather than another RPG. Will check this out!

    • protopop

      Thanks madmaxmedia. I've had a lot of requests for quests and Im going to add them in (i do want them because they can give incentive to explore and act as a guide), but i dont want to go down the violence-only route. I think it has a place but i want to focus on mechanics and adventure that helps connect you to this place and explore - the world is the star:) I hope you enjoy it and if you have any feedback please let me know

  • jarland

    Tried it for a few minutes. I guess I'm just not capable of getting it. It's a lot like how I feel about the sims. Is my life so boring that I have to pretend to be someone else for a moment to get away? I love gaming but just...walking around for no purpose? There's a park across the street for when I feel like exploring.

    • protopop

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts jarland. I think a lot of people feel the same way. I definitely prefer the outdoors - i think i enjoy making digi-vironments so much because of how much i enjoy the real thing:) I'm glad you took a chance on BrightRidge and checked it out. Maybe when the quests are added there will be a reason to visit it some more.

      • jarland

        It is beautiful design though for sure. Nice control. Look forward to questing :)

    • Maurice Wong

      well does your park have any giant walking trees?

      • protopop

        I wish mine did:) Actually i take that back, they could probably crush me with a single blow (those guys are STRONG). You know, it brings me back to the first time I saw a 'giant' walking - i didn't play World of Warcraft much but i tried it once or twice, and i remember walking into a small city and this giant just lumbered by, like some star wars beast shambling through Mos Eisley. It stuck with me even today

  • David Brown

    Bought this and tried it on my ipod touch 5th gen, and ipad mini. It didn't work on either and crashed constantly. Hopefully an update will fix this because i love ambient, relaxing exploration games like this.

    • Nullzone

      David, according to the developer and some folks on the game thread it can work on iPod5/iPad Mini. The problem is the low memory on those devices, he already had to reduce textures and remove some landmarks.
      Did you shutdown/reboot your device and close all other apps to free up memory?

      Robert/Protopop also wrote that he'll try his best to optimise further, so things might get better with a later update.

    • protopop

      Nullzone has the right advice, and I'm sorry to hear it crashed. For most people who experienced the same problem a restart of the device fixes it. i know that's not convenient so im going to continue optimizing the game for earlier devices(reducing skinned meshes etc.. there's a bunch of tricks). I really didn't want to hold back the bells and whistles on newer devices but so far it seems i can included higher levels of detail and "turn them on" only for devices that can handle it without overloading older ones. So although I don't officially support A5 devices, if this approach works i can keep adding to the game in general while keeping A5 crashes down. please keep tuned for the updates and let me know if a restart works. I love the ambiance and exploration too - sometimes i just walk around looking at things, and with the new camera options coming in 1.2 you'll get to see the world in a whole new way (provided we can keep it from crashing!)

      • David Brown

        Many thanks for the replies and advice. I tried restarting it after reading some of the earlier comments but to no avail. I look forward to trying it out in future!

      • protopop

        I'm glad you weren't completely turned off by the experience and I'm sorry to hear it didn't work. Please stay tuned for the updates - i'll continue to optimize it so hopefully one of the updates will run on your iPod.

      • Nullzone

        David, if you are still reading here:
        Try an app like "Battery Doctor". It shows how much memory is in use/available, and - more importantly - can clean up unused memory without shutting down your device.
        Would like to hear if it helps ;)
        As I am only checking here sporadically and it is not that easy to spot new posts: can I invite you over to the Nimian Legends forum thread?

  • protopop

    lol that's so cool:) i'll come by the thread a bit later and see what i can contribute. Maybe a map?

  • protopop

    Yeah, I do wish the visuals got more love, but he did like the ambiance, and it just pushes me to work more to understand how i can improve texture, lighting and detail:) I reread the review again last night and i am really swept away with how Eric articulated the beauty of the exploration aspect. I want to go through my marketing materials and reword some of it to communicate what he said because it's like he went in my mind and put together, in an eloquent way, what I'm trying to say. It's my first review and I'm glad it's such a thoughtful one:)

  • Hypocrypha

    Dude just saw it last night! Awesome!

  • Hypocrypha

    The visuals are insane in a world of flappy bird and no one complains about 8-bit rogue-like games that get 5 stars including for the graphics. Just sayin. But still feel it was a good review and pretty dang balanced.

  • imdakine1

    @protopop again... Great app! I am the fan of open world games and in particular that exploring to see what the world has to offer! You met and exceeded my expectation! I'm not a designer or programmer but would like to know if it would be possible for two modes in your future updates? I only ask because I wouldn't want your open works exploration game be so drastically changed that or becomes a full RPG.

    To me one of the best parts of what you've done is created a world for a player to consume and me part of.. The RPG added features or missions could be fun but also could completely ruin the experience. I might be the only person with this fear but I just wanted to know if it was even feasibly possible to have two versions or two tracks offers one for limited missions and just exploration and another that includes more RPG or added missions etc...

    As an old school original pong player having options would be nice!

    • protopop

      Pong!

      Thanks imdakine1:) wow, I'm relly glad you're enjoying it. It's nice to know i'm able to tap into something that some people enjoy and to be a part of that.

      Maintaining 2 separate projects would be unweidly but don't worry, I totally get what you're saying and I'm taking steps to mitigate the 'corruption' for lack of a better word of the experience. Basically if you just want to walk around, explore like now you can. It's only if you want to dig deeper that the quests will appear. So only if you speak to the Spirit Hunter (one of 3 new characters) will he send you on a quest. Otherwise the world will be just as peaceful and natural as ever. Im also trying to create quests that further the story of BrightRidge and keep with the exploration and nature theme. (only if you follow the path of Strength will you do any combat).

      My strength isnt really in combat deisgn but my interest at least is in digital nature, and any quests i do are really more, as Eric Ford the reviewer so elegantly stated "some kind of system for motivating players to further explore". The other aspect is there is a new enemy coming to BrightRidge - but i think they're quite cool and spooky, and if you dont want to deal with them at all, youll be able to "banish them with the light", a new skill im giving the player.

      I'm pretty excited about where its heading and thanks to people like you and your support im motivated. I hope this sounds cool and soothes you worry about it. It's kind of cool you're concerned because it means there's something special there. Its kind of like BrightRidge is a real wilderness and your the ranger, afraid that civilizations going to come and spoil the land:) Maybe i should add a ranger character called Dakine.

  • elr0y7

    I think this is a very accurate review, and I was on the fence about this game, leaning towards not buying it, but after reading these comments and the comments in the forums, wow, I really want to support the developer and hopefully more will come from the world of Nimia in the future.

    • protopop

      Thanks elr0y7:) It's easy to forget how difficult it is to take a chance on something you don't know. What I like about the review is that the author was very honest about what kind of game it is, and im inspired to work not only uncovering what the game is about as i update it, but how to communicate that clearly. Yeah, so many people, especially on Touch Arcade, have been very supportive. I'm glad their words and comments swayed you because they have really great ideas and opinions and knowing those carry some weight gives me a good feeling. I hope you enjoy exploring and please stay posted because there's some interesting updates coming too.

      • elr0y7

        Thanks, I am liking it so far, can't wait to see what's next.

Nimian Legends : BrightRidge Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5