Games of the Year

Nebula Within

Nebula Within Screenshot 1
Nebula Within Screenshot 2
Nebula Within Screenshot 3
Nebula Within Screenshot 4
Nebula Within Screenshot 5
0
1
Edit
"Plunge into the expanse within, the infinite nebula beneath your skin."

The challenges of your consciousness and their strange shapes swirl around as you navigate the cosmos within you. You feel uncertain, but with your Nebulatic Diary and the pages revealed therein, you find the Will to persevere through their steady advances.



The Nebula is a both a place of adversity and meditation. Of solitude and of companionship. Tension and calm.Features:
  • Confront the geometric abstractions of your feelings with different encounters every run.

  • Swift, smooth, and responsive twin-stick shooter gameplay.

  • Cooperate locally with up to 8 friends.

  • Play at your own pace: Explore increasingly difficult challenges or Reflect in peaceful perpetuity.

  • Rewrite negative thoughts into positive mantras.

  • Acquire reassuring allies to assist along the way.

  • Create chains of allies to help you progress through your emotions.

  • Face a variety of mini-bosses as you overcome challenges.

  • Find five different types of affirmations to empower you.

  • Reveal meaningful epigraphs, footnotes, and more in your Nebulatic Diary.


How we got here:I began developing Nebula Within during one of the lowest seasons of my life to try to make sense of my experiences. In more ways than I can count, I was both looking to extract meaning from my circumstances and reassure myself that things could get better. My best friend, Alaric Qin, helped me a lot during that difficult time. I would later ask him to compose the music, which ( lucky for me and you ) he accepted.

What began as a personal project has grown organically over time, and it has personally helped me enough to consider sharing it with the world. My hope is that someone out there finds tranquility or the motivation to continue persevering through playing this game. It isn't perfect, but then again, nothing ever is. It can get a little tough at times, but so can life.

Hang in there.

You're not alone.

Love,

Nick Oueijan

Bright Lights & Photosensitivity: This game will occasionally display bright/flashing lights.
Promote for 50G

Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

A life philosophy ruminating, fast-paced, geometric twin stick shooter made by the human, Nick Oueijan. Allow me to maybe put it a bit differently, one man's escape from the black hole life tends to create for a lot of us at some point and a vessel that helped him break free from his own personal one.
Despite only using geometry shapes, the game's visuals are very well done. Sharp, colourful geometry on a black background with tiny white, swirling stars makes for some good contrast and individual shapes stand out nicely. Game menus and selection are awesomely done, allowing you to pilot your ship and shoot to select individual options which are represented by different drawings. Even looking through your collected mantras is done by turning the pages with your ship.
By default, the game has very high intensity bloom and shapes flashing colours when you shoot them. The bloom is kind of distracting and I turned it off completely. The flashing colours can also be turned off and the game does come with a very clear and visible photosensitive seizure warning. It also comes with colour correction options for colour vision deficiencies. Watch out for any discomfort while playing. To quote Nick, "The world needs you healthy. <3".
Soundscapes are meditative in nature, calming and relaxing, to set the mood of letting go and preparing to overcome the negative emotions the game throws at you. The controls are very responsive, smooth and your ship moves very fast.
There are 11 chapters, each named after a negative emotion or a mental state. In normal mode you have limited lives. As you go through each chapter, the difficulty of geometry spawns increases as you clear waves and persevere. A challenge counter displays your current wave and they're cumulative. If you finish a chapter, you can continue to another one and the difficulty just keeps ramping up until you transcend. The visuals will then change, almost inverting themselves and the difficulty will keep increasing until you, eventually, fail. But that's the whole point, as in life, to pick yourself up, dust off, crack your knuckles and try again.
During chapters, you will have small respites where you turn negative thoughts into positive mantras before diving again into the whirlpool of negative shapes and forms, some of which carry additional negativity and are harder to get rid off. You will occasionally find affirmations and positive words, like reassurance, confidence and safety floating in the void which will buff your ship temporarily. There are no permanent upgrades.
Each time you rewrite a mantra, you get a small helper ship that will fly alongside you and shoot, encouraging you with positive thoughts. If you die, you lose them and this is where I disagree slightly with otherwise positive motivational and meditative aspirations. If personal experience has taught me anything, it's that people that go with you and help you through the void don't abandon you at the first sight of slipping into bleakness. I know it's a game mechanic, but I think it really goes against a lot of the things the game is trying to instill and awake in you.
Chapters always end with a boss battle and those are really nicely done. The shapes are wonderful and the battles tense, adrenaline fuelled and liberating when you defeat the boss. The game allows shared/split screen co-op play for some real bursting of negativity with your friends. It also has a relaxing endless mode, with infinite lives if you just want to get into the flow and actively meditate or just forget about everything for a spell.
The overall idea of combining a twin stick shooter with an awareness of mental health issues and it's goal of trying to bring positivity and mindfulness in a playful way is a worthy one, especially for a one man team, two-man, if we count Alaric Quin for the soundtrack, and it's clear how much of a passion project this is. This is not a substitute for professional help with mental issues and it's not meant to be, but it's a good, challenging and fun way to remind ourselves of things we tend to forget, that we should always go on and that sometimes looking into the mirror, smiling and saying "good enough" is all we need.
"It isn't perfect, but then again, nothing ever is. It can get a little tough at times, but so can life." - Nick Oueijan
More off the beaten path games, wonders and failures at the Cabinet of Curiosities.
Follow the Average Achievement Hunter Curator for reviews and useful information on Steam achievements: 26 achievements, most are for finishing chapters, one is for completing all the wave challenges without restarting chapters and a few others can be acquired by simply playing the game. The last one that you'll probably get is for acquiring all diary entries which requires finishing each chapter multiple times.

Review from Steam

Steam Curator : ==> Right to the Point! <== Follow
Story/Concept :
No Story
Unique Concept
Psychology
Human Emotions
Positive Thinking
Overcome Negative Feelings
Learn About Yourself
Gameplay :
Twin-Stick Shooter
Bullet-Hell
Unique Gameplay
Geometrical Shapes as Enemies
Positive Emotions as Power-Ups(Confidence, Reassurance,Safety)
Balanced Difficulty
Mantras will be unlocked in every stage
Each stage describes a Negative Human Emotion.
Motivational phrases will help you beat the level-->overcome the negative emotion
Every stage ends with a boss fight
Long stages
Visuals/Graphics :
Simple
Colorful
Bright colors
Geometrical shapes
Sounds :
Amazing Soundtrack
Atmospheric
Relaxing
Strongest Points :
Atmosphere that sucks you in
Great Soundtrack
Combines a video game with psychology and life's truths
Unique concept
Inspired By :
Asteroids
Geometry Wars
Other Bullet-Hell
Conclusion :
A unique game that i can definitely recommend,especially for people that like relaxing-atmospheric games and for people that like games that have to do with psychology and self-development.It also applies to audiences that like games with unique concept,games that have to offer something different.
Score : 7.5/10
Recommended
Steam Curator : ==> Right to the Point! <== Follow
If you want to discover more games like this one and even more!
Thanks for reading!

Review from Steam

Please follow United Critics for quality reviews
Nebula Within Review
Overview

A classic Twin-Stick Shooter game, with a twist. When you hear the term “Twin-Stick Shooter”, violence and explosive destruction would be the first terms to pop up in your mind, but this game is quite the opposite. Its main objective is to “Motivate” its players by displaying motivational quotes and positive phrases and it maintains a calm, peaceful and relaxing mood.

Gameplay

The players’ main objective is to destroy anything and everything that slides into the screen. It has a similar gameplay to the classic Asteroids game, but with no explosions. The game has two modes. One mode is the main mode where you progress through different levels (Known as Diary Entries here) with a different Motivational Mood and they get progressively harder, plus the player would be limited to three lives. The other mode is an endless mode where the player would have infinite lives and would face infinite waves.

The game also has power-ups that are positive/motivational words that buff the “Spacecraft” you are using for a short duration. These power-ups float around randomly and can be picked up. There are no permanent upgrades.

Visuals

The game uses simple geometric shapes, hence there’s nothing much we can talk about the graphics of this game. But what’s interesting is that the color palette they chose comprises of bright colors. The general background of the game is black (Outer Space) with small white dots (Stars). What sucks is that the game flashes these bright lights which hurt my eyes, not a real comfortable experience. It is also harmful to people with Epilepsy. What’s even worse is that they don’t warn the players about “Flashing Bright Lights” before the game starts. It’s not fun to have bright light flashing on your face all of a sudden when you are in a dark room. It is unhealthy for our vision. In conclusion, the visuals are simple but are too bright and flashy.

Audio

The game aims at giving the player a relaxing experience, so one would anticipate soothing music. Funnily enough, this game has an eerie soundtrack. It is not relaxing at all, it’s just creepy. It would be way better if they added a melodious and slow track instead.

Pros

A great time killer.
Endless mode for a stress-busting session.
Simple yet Vibrant and bright visuals.
I love how the menu is set up. You need to shoot the options you want using your spaceship.
The game records your longest “Diary Entry” that includes the Date, time, and the Scrawls Made. Scrawls increase depending on the number of hits you get on the target. 1 hit=1 Scrawl.


Cons

The game has a lot of bright flashes which is harmful to our eyes and for people with epilepsy. They don’t even warn the players about this beforehand.
The game is simple, doesn’t need a tutorial. But the player must be informed about the elements in the game and what their objective is.
The game gets boring eventually. It got boring after 5-10 minutes for me. This can’t be played as a main game, rather it can be played as a time killer.
The soundtracks used in this game are not comforting and soothing at all. They sound like they have been picked out of a horror movie. It’s too eerie to be in a game that promises to deliver a mind relaxing experience to its players.


Conclusion

This is a small game by a small developer and it’s certainly not shovelware as it has a unique concept. Although it’s not really “fun” to play, we need to support small developers who come up with unique ideas of their own. It’s good to play whenever you feel bored as a way to keep yourself entertained. I have mixed feelings for this game.
Rating: 5.5/10

Review from Steam

I really do like this game, and actually have a fair bit of respect for it.
When it comes to twin-stick shooters, they really aren’t my genre. Over the years I have seen a lot of them pop up every now and then, and I always thought to myself, “They honestly all look the same. How could you possibly re-vamp this kind of game to be something a little different?”.
I generally don’t really try new games of this kind because I already have a few in my game library and it seemed to me that once you have one you have them all (I’m sure there are exceptions to this but that was my view on the genre). I am actually quite glad that something finally came along and proved me wrong.
This game was offered to me via a newly created curator page I set up, “Psychology, Philosophy & Thought” (thought as in thought-provoking) so it’s worth mentioning that I was offered a review copy and it was free to me.
I am someone who has a fair bit of experience with mental illness, in the likes of depression and anxiety, and my experiences over the years have given me an interest in mental illnesses within themselves, psychological themes and philosophy. I tend to enjoy games which dabble with these themes, and I can get quite passionate about their execution in games. This goes especially for games with themes around mental illness as I strongly believe that it is important that we share our experiences openly with each other and in a way that does not misrepresent an illness, attempt to give one-size-fits-all advice or try to put anyone down. Due to this view I have, despite receiving a free copy of this game I will still be completely honest with my review.
I took to the games store page to read what this game was all about. I would like to point out that I almost immediately gained a respect for this game just reading its description. A main reason why I play indie games is the people that make them, and more often than not, put their soul into their games. This game is no exception, as the personal message in the description already gives you a clear representation of who made this game, why they made it, and what they hope to achieve by putting it out into the world.
Positive, humble and wholesome vibes vibing already, I booted up the game. I wasn’t really expecting much for a 1-man team (and for a twin-stick shooter if I’m honest) but I can say I was pleasantly surprised.
The graphics were immediately noticeable for me, as they are very clean and crisp, and although minimal (which I do love as well as the geometric aesthetic) it doesn’t look amateur-made. I feel like there is attention to detail here that didn’t go unnoticed in this case.
You have two main game modes, the exploration mode in which you can play through chapters to unlock diary entries/mantras, and an endless mode.
Each chapter includes milestones within it in which you unlock new entries/mantras. Hearing this concept you may already be wondering about how these mantras come across. No worries, this is no live laugh love pretentious Instagram inspo quote kind of thing. The mantras and quotes and everything you come across in this game I think I could confidently say are genuine. They were put there to reassure you, or calm you, or just make it known that it will be okay. This shows, and gives this game quite a therapeutic and oddly relaxing aura about it. I have learnt over many years how to calm my anxiety, and pick myself up on particularly difficult days.
Those who know depression know that sometimes those days can come with negative thoughts. A way to combat this sometimes is a positive mantra. The little things I tell myself and drum into my brain to try and bring back peace within myself are definitely not far away from what this game puts out there. I think they are a really nice part of this game, and definitely part of what makes it unique. I think to some degree all games are reflections of the people who made them and I could very well believe these notes and quotes and mantras could be the developer sharing the things that helped bring back that peace for him. It could equally not be, but none the less it gives this game a personal and human touch.
I am absolute garbage at these kind of games, so admittedly I haven’t even been able to complete an entire chapter just yet. If you die on a chapter, despite the milestones within it you hit, you have to attempt it again. This game may be therapeutic, but that doesn’t mean to say it isn’t challenging. I can imagine that some people may find it a bit frustrating that you have to start the chapter again to try and unlock the later milestones, but I think that is part of the point of this game. Persevere and keeping trying, and you will eventually overcome. Much like how overcoming your emotions works.
It’s an odd mix being therapeutic and challenging at the same time. There was definitely moments playing this game I felt relatively calm and tense at the same time.
If you need some kind words, it seems as if the developer Nick is most definitely here to try to brighten your day, and I love that. We need more of this kind of attitude in life. Everyone suffers in their own way, and to quote the man directly, “Hang in there. You're not alone.”
For a game in a genre I usually all but ignore, I think this is a great game.
For more reviews of games with psychological, philosophical or thought-provoking themes, check out my curator page Psychology, Philosophy & Thought, where we review games that explore the mind, get you thinking or make you question.

Review from Steam

Nebula Within

Overview

A classic Twin-Stick Shooter game, with a twist. When you hear the term “Twin-Stick Shooter”, violence and explosive destruction would be the first terms to pop up in your mind, but this game is quite the opposite. Its main objective is to “Motivate” its players by displaying motivational quotes and positive phrases and it maintains a calm, peaceful and relaxing mood.

Gameplay

The players’ main objective is to destroy anything and everything that slides into the screen. It has a similar gameplay to the classic Asteroids game, but with no explosions. The game has two modes. One mode is the main mode where you progress through different levels (Known as Diary Entries here) with a different Motivational Mood and they get progressively harder, plus the player would be limited to three lives. The other mode is an endless mode where the player would have infinite lives and would face infinite waves.

The game also has power-ups that are positive/motivational words that buff the “Spacecraft” you are using for a short duration. These power-ups float around randomly and can be picked up. There are no permanent upgrades.

Visuals

The game uses simple geometric shapes, hence there’s nothing much we can talk about the graphics of this game. But what’s interesting is that the color palette they chose comprises of bright colors. The general background of the game is black (Outer Space) with small white dots (Stars). What sucks is that the game flashes these bright lights which hurt my eyes, not a real comfortable experience. It is also harmful to people with Epilepsy. What’s even worse is that they don’t warn the players about “Flashing Bright Lights” before the game starts. It’s not fun to have bright light flashing on your face all of a sudden when you are in a dark room. It is unhealthy for our vision. In conclusion, the visuals are simple but are too bright and flashy.

Audio

The game aims at giving the player a relaxing experience, so one would anticipate soothing music. Funnily enough, this game has an eerie soundtrack. It is not relaxing at all, it’s just creepy. It would be way better if they added a melodious and slow track instead.

Pros

A great time killer.
Endless mode for a stress-busting session.
Simple yet Vibrant and bright visuals.
I love how the menu is set up. You need to shoot the options you want using your spaceship.
The game records your longest “Diary Entry” that includes the Date, time, and the Scrawls Made. Scrawls increase depending on the number of hits you get on the target. 1 hit=1 Scrawl.


Cons

The game has a lot of bright flashes which is harmful to our eyes and for people with epilepsy. They don’t even warn the players about this beforehand.
The game is simple, doesn’t need a tutorial. But the player must be informed about the elements in the game and what their objective is.
The game gets boring eventually. It got boring after 5-10 minutes for me. This can’t be played as a main game, rather it can be played as a time killer.
The soundtracks used in this game are not comforting and soothing at all. They sound like they have been picked out of a horror movie. It’s too eerie to be in a game that promises to deliver a mind relaxing experience to its players.


Conclusion

This is a small game by a small developer and it’s certainly not shovelware as it has a unique concept. Although it’s not really “fun” to play, we need to support small developers who come up with unique ideas of their own. It’s good to play whenever you feel bored as a way to keep yourself entertained. I have mixed feelings for this game.

Reviewer: Midplayz
Indie Games are funnily fun.

Rating: 5.5/10

Please follow United Critics for more quality reviews.

Review from Steam

A true labor of love. As a huge fan of twin stick shooters, this one is very impressive. It reminded me of the classic Everyday Shooter which I still play from time to time. First, the presentation is excellent and audio/visual is top notch. Inspiring messages and facing various issues head-on is therapeutic. Looking forward to playing this for a long time. It has plenty of things to unlock and fun game play. Highly recommended.

Review from Steam

Please follow United Critics for quality reviews
Good things:
It is a great game. Good bullet hell getting harder with each level with great boss fights at the end of each chapter and also an interesting take on human emotions and mental health. The game has some nice enemies ideas and how they work or interact with other enemies. I like that in setting you can change bloom intensity as after 2 chapters the sudden change in colors did hurt my eyes and changing bloom intensity helped with that. The game is all about finishing each chapter at least once and reading all the info about different emotions. But if you want to 100% this game you need to finish each chapter a few times. This is game was good for relaxing as I had to focus on the game and my mind could rest from thinking about my real life problems. I like the music in this game it is simple but good.
Bad things:
I found only 2 things I didn’t like. One is the bloom intensity that was selected from the start because after chapter 3 when the colors changed it did hurt my eyes but you can change it in calibrate menu. The other thing is that there are power ups but there are no permanent upgrades.
Conclusion
If you like hard bullet hell games or games that focus on emotions and mental health you should get this game.
Overall score 7.5/10

X
Age Verification
To be able to see content under adult tag.
Confirm