Starting Tenebris Pictura will have you scratching your head early on. You awake in a painting world, where you learn that you have the power to jump into paintings and walk around those areas. You can also split your spirit from your body, where most of the game is focused. As you continue, you will face various puzzles and combat sections that rely on you weaponising your spirit while protecting your body as it sits idly by.
On the puzzle side, things aren’t too terrible. Often, there will be a pink goo, mist, or other kind of obstacle that your body can’t move through, but your spirit can easily fly across. This leads to some interesting puzzle situations, like controlling a light beam that destroys walls to give your body safe passage or another light that reveals how the house you’re in looked in better days. Some solutions to these are a little more out there than others, but overall, we had a good time overcoming the puzzles.
Combat, on the other hand, we never enjoyed. You encounter demon monsters at almost every turn that only your spirit can attack. In these situations, you must leave your body in a safe location, section off some enemies to give yourself a better chance, and defeat them individually. There’s an additional catch: lowering the enemy’s health doesn’t defeat them. You have to then lead them to a painting where they get sucked in. While there are some special abilities you unlock as you progress through the game to give you more functionality in battles, we found the combat to be largely loathsome every time we engaged with it.
As a result, Tenebris Pictura doesn’t ever establish itself as a game you feel you must see all the way through. The world and puzzles may intrigue you, but the combat made us continually want to walk away from the game.