Funktronic Labs is the California-based studio that previously brought to you interactive experiments such as Collider and Kyoto on Oculus Rift and PC. A few days ago, it released its brand new strategic-puzzle and sci-fi adventure title, Nova-111. Their brand new project focuses on fusing game mechanics with real-time action and calculated maneuvers, making the simple space-themed game more challenging to the player’s mind.
Funktronic Labs launched the title on August 25th, 2015
In Nova-111, you are a pilot. Not just any pilot, but a space-vessel pilot. You are cast astray in space and time after a science experiment goes catastrophically wrong, with your unconventional ship almost dying on you. As you roam around searching for a solution, you rescue Dr. Science who, thankfully, fixes the ship for you. With his help, you resume your search for fellow missing scientists that include both humans and extraterrestrial friendlies. You also bump into animals ranging from hamsters to horses – all of which are in space, yes.
The music in Nova-111, composed by sound designer Jack Menhorn, adds a mysterious, slightly provoking yet laid-back aura to the gameplay – helping you decide on which “turn” (a.k.a move) you’re going to take next. The sound effects in the game were also designed to be very simple, alerting and engaging. Combining Nova-111‘s music with all the swooshes, smashes, electronic beeps and high-pitched character exclamations, the sound layering builds up just right to give the optimum effect while playing through the levels.
Nova-111 does not only have sleek art, but it attempts to add an element of light humor into the mix
The graphics in the game are radiant and plain-sailing. The maze-like maps are a bit of a tease, designed so you’re not 100% sure what’s heading your way at all times. The character design is also quite impressive, with each enemy’s appearance reflecting its attacks and abilities – from bomb-laying Blinkers (with their wobbling, glowing bodies that teleport after laying similarly glowing bombs) to fire-burping Chuckers (with their fire-colored bodies resembling the fire they shoot out).
But it’s not just the character designs that are charming. The world map menu is also rather quirky – and in a really good way – where your vessel is pixelated and shrunk, floating from zone to zone at your will in a vast universe. Each zone is composed of various levels – where in each level you get to rescue lost scientists, discover secrets, and collect upgrades, ability modules and health restores. Modules include Shield, which shields your vessel from a single attack and refills after several turns, and Phase, which allows your vessel to teleport through obstacles such as vines, beams and even enemies.
Nova-111 includes a real-time feature in enemy attacks and game events, which is why you need to be quick-witted. The controls are simple, as long as you remember which button does what, but the actual gameplay is quite smart, requiring some predictive, tactical skills. You’ll need to keep an eye out for real-time dangers that surround your vessel. You have to outsmart hostile aliens (bosses included) by analyzing how each one moves and attacks, and then beat it to the punch – this could take some practice to perfect. Other than enemies, you have treacherous perils such as lasers, turrets and stalactites. Nova-111 just keeps testing your abilities, only making it more and more entertaining to invest your time and mental effort in.
If you are craving tactical gameplay or puzzles, looking for something addictive, and are into puns and humor – this game is definitely worth your money. With its rather pleasant simplicity, tricky puzzles, cutesy art, turn-based gameplay and real-time action, you are bound to really enjoy the flight. Nova-111 is currently available on Steam for $11.99 (after a 20% launch discount).
Gameplay - 9.5/10
Plot - 7.5/10
Design - 8.5/10
+ Numerous levels and zones to play through
+ Intelligent puzzles
+ Smooth graphics and imaginative art
+ Consistent Module unlocks
+ Motive to explore due to availability of secret areas
- Movement lags exist in some levels, where your vessel suddenly moves slower
- Map layout designs of several zones have slight resemblance to each other, making it all seem a bit repetitive