[PS Plus Reviews] February 2016- Nova-111

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Disclaimer: This post is made as an entry for PS Asia’s PS Plus Junior Reporter competition. The points and views raised in the review however are not affected in any way.

Another game I went in completely blind, with nothing to expect. And it seems it is designed to accommodate people like me. That feature image is the start screen and poof, it throws you right into the game.

Nova-111 would seemed to be well designed for the Vita, but that is not its main platform. Available for all three Sony systems, as well as on PC and Xbox One, Nova-111 should not be missed. It’s turn-based move-attack gameplay reminds me of a an old pc shareware I forgot the name is, but a more recent equivalent would be Crypt of the Necrodancer. That game used a turn-based system, with a twist that you need to move to the beat of the music, as so are the enemies.

Nova-111 has a similar twist, as some elements follow the turn-based system, while some are in real-time.

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Graphics & Sound

While I may not like as much when it comes to Nom Nom Galaxy’s artstyle, Nova-111 has one that I adore. Everything looks clear and distinct. Gameplay elements like fog of war and your current line of sight is clearly visible. The artwork for most of the scientists need rescuing looks sweet- both the cartoon and 2D sprite visible on the map screen. And the map screen is easy to read too.

Sound-wise, the music are mostly soothing. There’s one music track that I am not a fan of- it uses way too loud of a static noise. Sound effects and audio cues are all spot on.

There’s not much to say about the graphics and sound, other than it is a polished looking game, running on sweet 60 fps. It is noted that while the screenshots here have black bars, I did not encounter them in game.

Oh, and the menu looks nicely animated, check out the gif! (It looks even better when playing though)

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Gameplay

As mentioned earlier, Nova-111 uses a turn-based grid movement system, and moving towards an enemy initiates an attack. Enemies have plenty of variety, some have easy to read patterns. Some require you to use the skip turn button to open up a chance to hit them.

Some disobeys the turns altogether.

It was a nice surprise to figure out that the stalactites are falling in real-time instead of waiting a turn like everything else. This opens up new opportunities to fend off the enemies. Lure them nearby so they are side-by-side, move to a stalactite, and dodge it as soon as it comes near.

Then there’s one enemy type that latches on you, and sends a hit slowly through its tendrils. Obviously the way to go is to rush down on it and hit them. So here’s where clever enemy placement comes in. One time, there’s another enemy that attacks based on turn, paired with the one with tendrils. Rushing down for the tendrils and completely forgot about the other enemy scooping up hits as I panicked to kill the tendrils one.

Fortunately, the game’s difficulty is forgiving, with health pickups aplenty and most parts of the early levels. But if you intend to go for platinum there’s a gold trophy where you to finish the whole game without taking any hits. That can be a huge challenge.

Throughout the game new gameplay mechanics, such as new enemy variants and new ship abilities are sprinkled at a decent pace. This spices up the game a whole lot, considering it does not have much content otherwise.

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Content & Longevity

Levels are divided into zones, where you can only play the whole zone but not one of the sub-levels. There’s not a huge number of zones and the game can be finished in less than 10 hours of gametime. Each level is small, bite-sized even. However, there’s collectables to get, in the form of the 111 scientists, and there’s a new game+, which even opens up cheat codes.

Don’t expect to play Nova-111 in a long period of time, but it is great when paced as a quick pick-me-up game once in while waiting for your mates to be online, or you have it on the Vita.

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Summary

Nova-111 is a pleasant surprise, and works best in small chunks. The bite-size levels and inventive use of gameplay mechanics would keep you engaged. It is what a typical indie game would do, and on that level Nova-111 hits all the right marks.

If you’re looking for something different once in a while then give Nova-111 a go. A great 8/10 game. While playing on the PS4 feels good, I still in notion that this title works best on the Vita. Give this a try.

Looking for other PS Plus free games of the month reviews? I have you covered. Click here for a full list of games I managed to cover.

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