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23 Jan 2021

REVIEW: Encodya on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
Let me start off by saying that I am a big fan of point and click adventure games, my recent reviews of the Leisure Suit Larry games will tell you that a well written game with great puzzles will give you endless fun, so when I was asked to review Encodya (Stupid name I know), I jumped at the chance.

Let's go over the plot quickly, set in the year 2062 and based on the short film "Robot will protect you",  you play as Tina, a 9-year-old orphan girl, and her guardian robot Sam 53.
You live in a shelter on a roof top. Dystopian future, robots, you get the idea, you have seen it a thousand times before.

As you play the game you are given daily tasks, to start with they are things like fix the shelter, get edible food, and so on. The graphics are stunning, the voice acting is decent. All in all it looks and sounds great.

So far so good. In pretty much all point and click games, when you are on a screen you will press a button and that will highlight everything you can interact with. In Encodya this is done with the Space Bar, however it doesn't really highlight clearly anything, maybe something will lighten slightly in colour, and that is it, and it will often only be something that you can directly pick up, nothing else is highlighted, so you will end up scanning the entire screen slowly trying to find things, this is beyond frustrating.

You will soon get stuck, luckily there is built in hints, but to access them you have to take control of Tina and then speak to Sam, you then have to go through annoying dialog EVERY SINGLE TIME to get to the question you want to ask to get the hint on. And then the hint you get is next to useless. What this leaves you doing is getting even more frustrated, endlessly walking around and trying a process of elimination with regards to things in your inventory, hoping that two things match up that may help you figure something else. Unfortunately, this tedious game-play will just either leave you thinking "what's the point, this is no fun", or just simply watching a walk-through video on YouTube and copying that. Which basically makes playing the game pointless.

How to fix this. 
1. Hints system needs to be a simple question mark on the side of the screen, one click help.
2. The help itself needs to actually help you, not tell you things you already know.

I wanted to enjoy this game, but there is just nothing in it to make me want to come back and finish it. I am left feeling indifferent, which is such a shame as clearly a lot of work has gone into the game, but the control system is annoying, the Robot gets in the way when you are trying to see something, and although you can control him and move him, it is just another thing to wind you up.

The Good
The game is beautiful, a lot of work has gone into it, and I really appreciate the hard work.

The Bad
The game is poorly designed, controls are slow, and you end up wasting too much time clicking through to get to what you want. Things need to be instant. It is 2062! SPEED THINGS UP!

With a better control system, and maybe making the robot tiny so he doesn't get in the way, and a much improved hint system, this game could be great. It is one of those annoying occasions where everything that annoys me, is so very close to being done right, but then these little things all add up, and just drove me mad.

I rate this game 5/10

By Jon Donnis

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