What the future will look like is anyone’s guess. One thing however that is not open for debate is the fact that technology is ever increasing. Every year its importance in our lives deepens. There are of course tremendous benefits to having a technologically advanced society, but it also means that people and communities are not as close as they used to be. We all have our hopes and fears about the future, some more dark than others. Chaosmonger Studio chose to base their newest game on just such a dark scenario. They partnered with Assemble Entertainment to release ENCODYA. Chaosmonger is a studio that creates multimedia’s projects and ENCODYA has an unusual story. The concept originally started with a short movie they created using crowdfunding through Kickstarter. The project is titled “Robot Will Protect You”. The highest goal for the Kickstarter funding was the creation of a full game and here we are. ENCODYA is a point & click game with a cyberpunk aesthetics and a dystopian theme.
The story takes place in Neo-Berlin, a dystopian city in the year 2062. Our protagonist is a young nine year old girl named Tina. In Neo-Berlin every child is assigned a robot at birth and Tina is no exception. Neo-Berlin is not a nice place to grow up. It is a cold and colorless place and the city is fully controlled by corporations. Tina has to scavenge for scraps taken from the city dumpsters to survive. Along with her robot companion, SAM-53, she lives in a makeshift shelter on one of the many rooftops that make-up the city. One day Tina discovers a message left by her long-lost father. He was working on a clever plan to save Neo-Berlin, but could not finish what he started. Now it is up to Tina helped by her loyal companion to finish her father’s work. They will embark on the journey of their lives.
ENCODYA’s artwork is definitely its best feature. The graphics are splendid and a perfect display of the developers’ skills and showcase of their multimedia background. They have done a fantastic job of visually representing Neo-Berlin’s dystopian look. The graphics could have been taken right out of a movie which is appropriate knowing how the game came to be. The graphics are stylish with their dark grayish color to represent the dreary life of Neo-Berlin. The sober style creates a truly foreboding atmosphere. There is an array of locations each one beautifully detailed.
The story is interesting unfortunately it never seems to quite take off. It is not to say that it is not a good story. The premise is intriguing and extremely current. In the end it is a forgettable storyline. The problem is that all through the game, you are going through the motions, but the story is not engaging enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters are a bit like the narrative. They tend to be a bit flat and lackluster. Young Tina starts out great, she has a lot of spunk, is resourceful and clever. Initially it looks promising. The issue is that there is not much character development so what you start with is pretty much what you get, since she never truly evolves. SAM does not have much of a personality which is quite appropriate since well… he is a robot, but I still expected a bit more.
During the game, you can switch from Tina to SAM. I love the fact that each of the characters has their own specific dialogues, that fit with their personalities when talking to the NPCs and interacting with the different objects. It is always nice when developers take the time to add these kinds of details. Some of the puzzles are also character specific and can only be solved by either Tina or SAM.
The puzzles are okay as long as you do not expect anything too challenging. Most of them can be solved easily and the couple that are more challenging are not exactly brain-teasers. The reason they are more difficult is more often than not because they are illogical and you just have to interact with random items until you find the proper combination. It itself it is not necessarily a problem, since many great games also contain some rudimentary puzzles. However those games usually have a strong narrative which ENCODYA is sorely missing and cannot support the game by itself.
ENCODYA is a difficult game to review. I did enjoy some parts of it. I loved the artwork and the neat style. A lot of work has clearly gone into the creation of this game. It just does not make the cut. If you like point & click games with interesting settings and have the chance of trying it out, you will get some enjoyment out of it. However there are so many exceptional adventure games out there that I would not recommend buying it unless you really have your heart set on it. I was really looking forward to playing ENCODYA, but it ended up being a bit of a let down. Nonetheless the developers obviously have a lot of talent and some awesome ideas, so I will definitely keep an eye out for their next project.
Written by Vee