I’ll be honest and say that point-and-click adventure games tend to lose my interest pretty quickly. I think the potential reason behind it all is that there’s just not enough action that’s going on to keep me entertained, or there isn’t a consistently-paced plot that has me wanting to continue on playing. That said, there have been some point-and-click adventures that I’ve fallen in love with, like Machinarium, Broken Age, Night in the Woods, and of course, The Secret of Monkey Island.
For me, for a point-and-click adventure to be considered a “must-play”, it needs to have a lovable cast of characters, a unique art style, and a memorable plot. With Nicola Piovesan and Chaosmonger Studio’s upcoming title, ENCODYA, it seems like it’ll be a delightfully unusual blend of Studio Ghibli, Blade Runner, and Monkey Island that’s mushed together in one package. With a demo out in the wild (for those that sign up for the newsletter), we had a chance to play a little snippet of the game to see if it’ll be point-and-click adventure game worth clicking through when it releases for PC — and perhaps consoles sometime next year (there’s nothing set and stone in regards to release date and platforms just yet.)
ENCODYA has players take on the roles of a 9-year old orphan named Tina and her big, clumsy guardian robot S.A.M. 53, who live and explore in a mesmerizing near-future world called Neo Berlin. This world is a dark megapolis that isn’t exactly a “home sweet home” by any means as it’s run by corporations and corrupt politicians — and it looks eerily similar to the neon-lit cyberpunk world of Blade Runner. For the current demo of the game, both Tina and S.A.M. 53 are trying to figure out a way to get bus tickets so they can go back to Tina’s home.
Problem is that they don’t have any credits (money) to just simply buy tickets, so they need to find other ways to get what they need. Now, this sounds simple enough, however, things get a bit more complicated pretty quickly. This mini-adventure of sorts takes place the night before the real, life-changing adventure begins, but even though it’s just the beginning, it still was quite an adventure in itself to go on as it properly shined a light on the colorful cast of characters, exquisite, finely-detailed art style, and humorous and heartwarming dialogue that the full game will have.
Playing ENCODYA is so easy that even a… simple yet cool robot like S.A.M. 53 could do it. Given that the game is a point-and-click adventure, the main gist of how the game is played is that you click on a location to go to, or if there’s something or someone that catches your eye, click on that particular object or person to find out what you can do and voila, that’s that. For some of you, this may not sound like the most exciting gameplay of all time, but let me tell you that doing these simple actions brought about some interesting results.
Depending on what’s clicked on, a little menu will pop up that’ll allow you to pick out how to interact with whatever was clicked on. For instance, if you decide to click on one of the several characters that you’ll meet in just the demo alone, you can decide whether to analyze them or talk to them. If the “talk” option is chosen, then you’ll be met with a choice-based dialogue system that gives multiple questions to choose from that relate to that specific character.
Since Tina is just a young girl, she’ll often have various silly, cute, and purely innocent questions, like asking “Do you have any cash?” to an elderly lady. This is just one of the many interactions that gave me a nice idea of the game’s dialogue that seems quite similar to dialogue found in The Secret of Monkey Island, and all of the interactions seriously made me chuckle and go “Aww” a good number of times. That said, I did notice that ENCODYA isn’t going to be a completely happy-go-lucky game by any means as there will be an overall theme or message of how technology — for the game, it’s known as “cyberspace” — is making a negative impact on society (sounds familiar to Studio Ghibli film, right?).
On the bright side of things, at least you’ll be able to see what happens in the world of Neo Berlin either through the eyes of Tina or S.A.M. 53 as you can switch between both characters at any time. By doing so, different interactions will occur. This feature in itself is a great little twist to the usual point-and-click formula. That’s not the only twist that players will find as ENCODYA will have hidden secrets to uncover as well — during my playthrough of the demo, I was able to find one which brought about a really cool change. Rather than spoiling it, I’ll let you find it instead.
With what I played, ENCODYA is going to be undoubtedly simple yet satisfying, however, its cell shading-like art style is looking absolutely stunning. Not only that but the animations in the demo were actually really well done as they were smooth and fluid to a tee. Even though the demo focused more on the deary side of Neo Berlin, all of the city’s environments were still a beaut to behold, and every character model was unique in its own right.
The ENCODYA demo didn’t last long, however, I still was able to get a great idea of what to expect for the full game. As a stickler when it comes to point-and-click adventure games, I discovered that ENCODYA is shaping up to be a point-and-click adventure game that any fans of the genre will enjoy. With its old-school but new-school point-and-click gameplay, stunning art style, and one-of-a-kind cast of characters, ENCODYA is worth adding to your “games to keep track of” list.
For a brief history lesson: ENCODYA came to life thanks to a successful 2018 Kickstarter for an animated short film called Robot Will Protect You. One of the stretch goals of that campaign was for a videogame to be made, and since the stretch goal was achieved (hooray!), we now have a videogame based on the film, which of course is, ENCODYA.
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