Slow and steady wins the race!
When the review code for Nova-111 landed on my desk, I was expecting some kind of space shoot ‘em up. I mean, it really does have that kind of cool sounding name that invokes memories of R-Type or Gradius. What I got was something very different.
Nova-111 is a side-scrolling space game, but one that plods along at a slower pace. Super fast reactions are not required. What is required however is planning and thought. The aim of the game is to control a small craft through levels, each decorated with various enemies and obstacles, all while looking for lost scientists and the exit. The difference here is the pacing. Instead of throwing lots of enemies at the player and giving all-powerful weapons, Nova-111 wants players to take their time and plan each move. The ship can move in four directions one step at a time as players explore the levels, and each level is a maze of sorts, with the various paths opening up to push further forward.
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
The game took me by the hand during the first few stages; explaining the movement, the different types of enemies and the weapons and abilities that I had at my disposal. Each enemy has a different style of attack, be it just simply chasing me or by trying to lick me with a 20ft tongue. Abilities will be unlocked as players progress, which will allow them take on some of the more difficult aliens. Although I found that some of them barely got used shortly after they were introduced. There’s also the geometry that players must watch out for, such as falling stalactites or large rocks that block the path, making exploring the levels deadly but rewarding if I happened upon one of the missing Doctors.
Game play is going to be the main focus here; not only because the game wants players to think about their actions before taking them, but also because the story narration doesn’t do a great job of imparting information. It is doled out in the form of a small pop up window in the top right corner of the screen. The game stops and points out game mechanics, but it is really easy to miss the narrative pop ups while moving through the environments. So much so that I had no idea what is going on, other than there was a massive accident with an experiment and that I needed to save the scientists. Not that it matters that much, those that will want to play this game won’t be coming in for the story.
As with most games nowadays, leaderboards are available to check out how players stand with the community. It tracks both time taken to complete a level as well as how many turns it took. But as there isn’t really any kind of incentive to get things done in a timely manner, I never found myself comparing stats. Saving can be a pain as well. The game only saves at the end of each stage, not at the end of each level. Meaning if I decided to quit half way through a stage, I had to start the entire stage from scratch.
Nova-111 is a nice departure from the usual sci-fi side scrolling games that we are used to. By making it a turn based puzzle game, Funktronic Labs have made something that stands out a little. With its simple design and helpful tutorials, Nova-111 is easy to get in to, but don’t be too surprised if the game doesn’t hold your attention for too long.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.