Nova-111 Review

Turn based games are one of my favourite genres. Having the time to think between turns and approach everything strategically is an advantage I love to have. Although Nova-111, a game made by Funktronic Labs, started out as such a game, giving me time to think my moves through, it quickly changed its attitude, introducing me to one of the most enjoyable puzzle-action experiences I’ve had in quite a while.

In Nova-111, we assume control of a little orange spaceship. Through various clues throughout the game, we find out that due to some experiment that scientists made the flow of time in the universe has been distorted. Our job is to lead the spaceship through various obstacles, such as puzzles and monsters, in order to find scientists and fix the time flow. These scientists are scattered actoss various planets, which are the stages we will be going through.

Every stage is split into three levels. Although the levels start out simple, more and more gameplay elements are introduced as the game goes on, making every stage harder than the previous one, thankfully without increasing the game’s learning curve needlessly. The basic gameplay of Nova-111 is moving our spaceship through the level, which is done using the WASD keys. Our aim in each level is to find the scientists (or scientists) stranded on it and rescue them. Of course, we will face many different enemies in our path, as well as the stage itself. Since there is no map, we have to be careful of our surroundings, or we’ll get lost quite a lot. When it comes to enemies, there are two types. The first type adheres to the turn based rules of the game. In other words, these type of enemies will not move unless we do, meaning that with some simple strategizing we can defeat them easily. The second type of enemies are the ones who do no care about the turn based rules. These enemies have been affected by the time flow being distorted and will either keep moving even without us moving first or will use projectiles and weapons that ignore turns. The earliest example of this enemy is a type of bomber, who teleports every two turns, leaving a bomb in the tile he used to occupy. However, this bomb has a regular timer and turns don’t matter to it. This forces us to play a bit faster and more carelessly than we otherwise would. Apart from enemies, there are also objects such as pillars who also ignore turns when falling on us.

Another thing of note on the map is the way it is revealed to us. The map is made up of tiles, and, as we move, more tiles are revealed to us. The tiles that are revealed are based on the objects ahead and how they block our vision. For example, if a rock is ahead of us on the map, we can’t see through it. Generally, vision plays a big part in each stage. Sometimes, we need to move to every tile in order to be able to see everything. Moreover, it is possible to get the jump on the enemies, since if we can’t see them, they can’t see us. All in all, the gameplay of Nova-111 is exemplary. The only issue I have is the fact that there are no checkpoints. This means that if I die at the third level of a stage, I have to play through the whole stage again. As I’m sure you can understand, this is a pretty annoying thing to do.

Apart from the gameplay, the game’s graphics are also very beautiful. They have a kind of minimalistic touch and they are also full of colour, making the whole game a pleasure to look at. This is also aided by the little dialogue in the game that we get from the scientists we save. The dialogue is not only humorous but it also has a few tidbits of historical information too. Sadly, the game’s sound is not as good. Personally, I found it boring and more than a little distracting at times.

To sum up, Nova-111 is a very fun game that combines action, puzzle and strategic elements. Its combination of turn based and real time components means the game requires both tactics and quick reflexes. While the absence of checkpoints might mean it is not for everybody, those that try it will not be disappointed.

You can get Nova-111 on Steam for 9 euros.


Verdict

Combining real time and turn based gameplay usually ends in disaster, however Funktronic Labs manage to provide a very entertaining experience, wrapped in a fantastic package of beautiful graphics. Despite that, the game does have a few issues, primarily the absence of checkpoints, which can prove infuriating.


+ Beautiful Graphics.

+ Gameplay that combines both real time and turn based components.

– Mediocre sound.

 No checkpoints.

Score: 8.2/10

– Philip “Snowchill” Alexandris