Encodya | PS4 Review
There are very few things that make me happier than a point-and-click game. So I was more than excited to find out that not only would I be reviewing Encodya for the PlayStation 4, but that one of the protagonists is also called Tina. Call it fate if you will. Encodya is a cyberpunk point-and-click adventure-puzzle game developed by Chaosmonger Studio and published by Assemble Entertainment and is now available on Windows PC, PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo Switch. This game was put to the test on PlayStation 4, so any comments of this game will be related to this platform only.
Set in a futuristic Neo-Berlin in 2062 - think robots, flying cars, and whatnot - you are introduced to an 9-year-old orphan called Tina and her companion, a nanny robot called SAM-53, who is programmed to protect Tina at all times. Neo-Berlin has been described as a multi-cultural city where German has replaced English but with neon signs displayed in various different languages. The mayor of the city, Jonas Rumpf is seeking reelection and appears to have an authoritarian control of the city. The city is also overrun with an addiction to cyberspace - visible by the number of cyberspace junkies dotted around the city with their heads absorbed into their VR Headsets. Tina is left an orphan after her mother dies from a cyberspace overdose three years previous to the events of Encodya. Tina and SAM are sleeping rough on the rooftop of a building in a makeshift shelter. Your first task requires finding food and socks for Tina, a patch for the roof of the shelter, and some robot oil for SAM. Once you have completed this opening mission, the purpose of the story as well as the explanation of Encodya become more apparent. I found the story itself to be one of the strongest elements of this game and wee Tina and her robotic companion had me hooked from the very beginning.
There are two different levels of difficulty in this game - easy and hard. Easy mode allows you to ask SAM for hints, although he reminds you not to ask so many hints as it affects his CPU. Hard mode does not have this option. To be honest, I tried out the game on easy mode and when I got stumped (which happened on more occasions than I would like to admit), I did not find SAM's hints to be of much help. Some of the puzzles involved were not too difficult to crack and generally involved asking people and robots in different areas or interacting objects with other objects or people (or robots). Other puzzles however had me running for the walkthrough available on the internet and even after consulting it, I was left scratching my head as to the logic behind a particular solution. One instance which springs to mind is trying to get a flying drone to interact with you. I found the solution online, and there was no way that I would have ever come to that conclusion. Situations like that leave a sour taste - puzzles are supposed to be challenging but also rational and logical in their approach.
Regarding the gameplay itself, you can alternate between Tina and SAM in instances for example if an item is out of Tina's reach or if Tina tries to communicate with another robot. The controls are relatively easy to manage for the most part, albeit a little quick with the running speed of the characters which may lead you to enter/exit an area before you are finished with the area. Having to control two characters as well can be problematic at times as switching from one to the other may cause the second character to inadvertently get in your way, and block other characters and objects. Along with the ability to toggle between characters, you also have quick access to your inventory and map, which is available for most of the game and you can fast travel between places once you have a Flybus ticket. That being said, as is a staple in many point-and-click adventures, there is a lot of back and forth between scenes.
This leads me to my main frustration with this game - lagging. I am unsure how well Encodya works on other platforms but on my PlayStation 4 it struggled significantly in two key areas - scene transition and cutscenes. While the scene transition can be irritating with the lag, it is still playable and for the most part it is only irritating. However the lag with cutscenes makes them incomprehensible, therefore making them utterly pointless although they are required for the flow of the story. It appears to be an issue for other PlayStation 4 users as well. This is such a shame as it does detract from an otherwise beautifully created and styled 2.5D world with an amazing soundtrack.
Would I recommend Encodya on the PlayStation 4? As much as I want to say yes, as I feel there is so much potential here, I would have to say that in its current state, maybe not. However, I would strongly suggest people interested in this game to try it out on other platforms. The lag on PlayStation 4 was a significant let-down for me and some of the puzzle solutions did not appear to be all too coherent, so I would be very hopeful that a patch would at least improve the lag issue. Aside from that, Tina is just too adorable to ignore, there are some very humourous lines and quite a few nods to popular culture. If you are interested in the point-and-click genre, Encodya does not bring all too much to the table which has not already been done, but it would still be worth a look. Tina's Rating: 2.5 Nasty Robots out of 5. (with the potential of a higher score should the lagging issue be resolved)
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