A City Of Robots And Junkies

HIGH Solid 2D graphics and voice acting.

LOW Some bugs and issues dampen the experience.

WTF No more fourth wall-breaking jokes please!

The recent resurgence of 2D point and click adventure titles seems to have no end, so much so that “recent” hardly seems the right word for it: this wave has been crashing for a few years now. Encodya is yet another, and it sits right in the middle of the pack — not entirely derivative of the classics, yet it doesn’t attempt to cover new topics or to surprise players who know the genre.

In the city of Neo Berlin, orphan Tina lives homeless on the streets with her caretaker robot Sam, their relationship the only thing that’s kept them from going crazy in their bleak, grey future. As the story begins, she has an opportunity to find out what happened to her disappeared father, while also looking into the mayor’s plans to transform Neo Berlin.

Players can expect the usual 2D adventure tropes — pick up objects and items, combine them, and talk with characters to solve puzzles. Encodya kindly keeps track of objectives needed to advance and, on easy mode, will also highlight interactable objects on screen.

The narrative is not of paramount interest, but it does touch upon some interesting political topics relevant to modern times, despite not going in-depth on any of them and remaining mostly light in tone throughout. That said, the humor is a bit hit-or-miss, relying a bit too much on ‘fourth wall’ jokes and pop culture references. It’s not over-the-top, though, and on the whole I’d say this is primarily a light cyberpunk-ish drama and not a comedy.

The puzzles are not too difficult, but I would still recommend sticking to easy mode since Encodya wants the player to engage in some irritating pixel hunting at times, and such design – at least for me – does not make the experience entertaining. There are also a couple of instances where ‘moon logic’ crops up, like a random line of dialogue that nets Tina an item for no clear reason whatsoever.

Encodya was first released on PC, but this console release comes with a controller-friendly scheme which mostly works even though — for some reason — it switches from direct control to point-and-click when items are being handled. Unfortunately, in addition to this new control scheme, the console version also comes with a slew of technical issues like random loading times (sometimes up to 30 seconds just to switch screens!) subtitles disappearing, and stuttering after loading has been completed.

For these reasons, Encodya might be best recommended to hardcore adventure players who are on the hunt for something to quench their thirst on consoles. And even in this case, maybe wait for a few patches…

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Chaosmonger Studios and published by Assemble Entertainment. It is currently available on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox . This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PS4. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was not completed. There are co-op multiplayer modes available.

Parents: The game is rated E10+ by the ESRB, and it contains Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence and Mild Language. Considering there is nothing much in the way of sensitive topics or content, I would recommend it also to a younger teen audience.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game features subtitles for all spoken dialogue. No audio cues are needed for gameplay. Text cannot be altered or resized. (See examples above.) In my view, the game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The game is controlled by moving the character around with the left analog stick and interacting with the X button, along with the triangle button to open the inventory. It is not possible to remap the controls. There is no control diagram.

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