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Indie Corner: Nova-111

For those who’ve played PixelJunk Shooter, Nova-111 won’t appear to be something new. Both games do the same; they put the player in a strange underground setting filled with aliens. It’s no surprise both games look the same since Nova-111 is created by ex-PixelJunk creators as Funktronic Labs. So the game isn’t that innovative or creative but it mixes some interesting genres together as one.

Real time turned based combat

The biggest selling point of Nova-111 is its combination between two genres that are never combined. The turned based grid combat and the real time action game. Nova-111 is one of the first games to combine both genres and it actually works! The underground world is divided into small squares on a big grid. You move your spaceship from square to square, advancing in the world. Most parts of the world are hidden in the shadows so you never really know what to expect. This reminded us of classic games as Age of Empires but thanks to the fast, real time controls, everything happened in a higher pace.

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The concept works best when you face enemies. The game introduces several enemies at a steady pace. You defeat most by hitting them with your spaceship. Once you hit them, they’ll attack or counter. You can escape attacks by moving backwards if you’re fast enough. It’s really difficult to explain on paper but it works great. Nova-111 plays more like an action adventure game thanks to this rather than a turned based game. The battles are turn based but thanks to the fluency of countering and dodging moves, you never get the feeling of playing a turn-based game.

Funktronic Labs did something many of us thought would be impossible to achieve and they deserve all credit for it. Nova-111 is one of those games that invent a new gaming genre. We were very pleased with the way combat was handled.

Great atmosphere

Aside of the rather innovating combination of gameplay, Nova-111 also has a great atmosphere. Most of the atmosphere comes from the crazy humor. The goal of Nova-111 is to rescue scientists who got stranded in the underground of alien planets. Finding them and the exit is a fun task, especially when you start paying attentions to the commentary. The chief of the ship will always tell you what to do and where to look. He’ll also give his opinion on the scientists you’re saving. It keeps things light and funny while you’re playing.

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It’s not only the narrative that brings atmosphere to the game, the graphics are noticeable as well. It’s not a jaw dropping game but it’s beautiful in its own way. It uses bright and clear colors in combination with dark shadow parts. The ship and enemies are designed with a lot of details so they all look different and fun. Every type of enemy has its own strengths and weaknesses; some of those are visible thanks to the design alone so that’s great for sure!

Step by step

Nova-111 starts rather easy, the first environments aren’t that hard to solve and you’ll unlock new worlds rather fast. The more you advance, the more difficult it all gets however. The game introduces new enemies and new traps, like falling rocks, step by step. It first lets the gamer experience the basics and adds an extra challenge on top of that from time to time. Each level is a small puzzle where you need to find both the exit and scientists you need to rescue.

NovaVerdict
The good: The bad:
+ Great gameplay combination – Looks a lot like PixelJunk Shooter
+ Great atmosphere – Small levels
+ Humor – A bit too short

Nova-111 is a great little game that feels right at home on Wii U. With off-screen support, it’s the perfect game to play while you’re chilling on your couch. Combining turn-based combat with real time movement might sound strange on paper; it works incredibly well in practice. It’s one of those little gems you just need to give a go.

4 out of 5:

4sterren

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.