Encodya is a Kickstarter project that stirred up quite a bit of interest and, unlike most, easily reached its goal. Now it's for sale on the Xbox Store for £24.99. Set in Neo Berlin in the year 2062, Encodya tells the story of cute little Tina and her personal robot, S.A.M. 53. It's basically a point & click flick-screen adventure. You can swap control between the two characters with 'LB', move with the left stick, and run with 'RB', The left trigger brings up a map of Neo Berlin (and allows you to fast travel to the various locations that are actually playable), and the right trigger opens your inventory. Not the most intuitive control system but it works.
The first character you'll meet is Eku, a part-time cyber dealer selling computer & robot parts in a back alley because his teaching job at the Uni doesn't pay enough. He has nothing of use to you so you start plodding around the 3 available screens looking for a hole–to be honest it's not the most riveting start to a game. Eventually I figured out that you had to use a jar with rotten sushi to trap a cockroach to bla bla bla–you get the idea.
Encodya follows the familiar point & click adventure formula whereby you meet someone who tells you you need something to do something/get somewhere and in order to do that you have to do something for that someone to get a thing for someone so they'll give you the thing to use with the thing to get the other thing… Oh, yeah, you already got the idea didn't you.
Tina & S.A.M. have both some genuinely funny and poignant moments–the game undoubtedly has heart. The dystopian, Bladerunnerish setting is very well designed with some beautifully drawn backgrounds. Futuristic technology is mixed in with recognisable current tech, although I'm not sure why people are still using 3.5 inch floppy disks in 2062.
So Encodya looks nice and plays… OK. It could have been better coded though, it's consistently overly fussy about where you stand Tina or S.A.M. to interact with people & items, and even when moving to another area sometimes you have to be stood precisely on an indicator arrow to go to the next area, and the arrow may not be anywhere near the border of the screen. Sometimes you just walk to the obvious path, so why they mixed methods I'm not sure. The inventory system is also a bit clunky, and the way you select an item, then leave the inventory, then open the inventory again to use a second item to craft say, a fishing pole is pain.
We managed to get S.A.M. stuck on one occasion, although we just fast-travelled to another area to un-stick him. This wasn't the first or last time the big grey fella caused a problem though. He is so big on some screens that he gets in the way of the person or item you're trying to interact with, and if you switch to him sometimes he won't be able to perform the action–it might be an action or conversation that must be performed by Tina, so you move him away, switch to Tina and guess what? S.A.M. wanders over and stands in the way again! Aaargh!
Even for a point & click-type adventure Encodya is a bit of a plodder at the start and the story none too compelling, but as it unravels it becomes more interesting, includes some clever puzzles and I reckon you're going to want to see it through to the end.
As an aside there are 10 secrets to find including a very cool dragon fly-by and tributes to several classic games, including Day Of The Tentacle and the Monkey Island games, point & click adventures so influential that without which there'd probably never have been an Encodya.
Not a bad game by any means, this gentle adventure was a good 6-7 hours to complete on the 'hard' setting, although you can play it on 'easy' to make the tasks easier and receive hints should you get stuck.