I can’t speak for the gaming public, but during these strange times there’s something incredibly comforting about playing a good point-and-click adventure. The genre is saturated in nostalgia, with its best iterations harking back to the design philosophy and witty writing of classics like Gabriel Knight, Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. It’s old-school escapism at its finest, and freshly released cyberpunk adventure Encodya hopes to join the PC platform’s rich legacy of point-and-click adventure.
But even though Italian developer Chaosmonger Studio is openly inspired by those legendary adventure games of yore, it uses those inspirations to tell its own story - a story about a young girl lost in a dark (yet beautiful) cyberpunk city in the company of her oafish robot guardian, SAM-53. Tina is an orphan, living in a makeshift rooftop shelter and surviving off scraps. But when she discovers that her father had an ambition to free the city of Neo-Berlin from corporate oppression, she and SAM-53 leave the shelter to try and fulfil her father’s dream.
The first thing that really pops out in Encodya is its visual style - which mixes the dreamy stylings of Studio Ghibli with the steamy steely grit of Blade Runner. What’s unique about Neo-Berlin is that you can still see vestiges of the original city beneath its endless skyscrapers and neon lights - from regal townhouses to traditionally decorated cafes. Beyond the city, meanwhile, you’ll venture through a wilderness that still flourishes throughout fecund woods and countryside. It’s a world that’s dystopian, sure, but the art design imbues it with warmth.
Like all great adventure games, Encodya is filled with memorable characters and brain-bending puzzles. There are over 35 NPCs to interact with, each with their own story that will shed light on this strange world you’re exploring.
To keep you on your toes, many of the puzzles are randomly generated across different playthroughs, which will force you to keep your mind alert and senses sharp. Don’t expect any inscrutable riddles like Monkey Island’s infamous bank heist, but don’t expect to just wander like an automaton through the world without being challenged either (no offense intended to robots - SAM-53 is a lovely companion).
Your journey will take you to over 100 locations, lovingly shot from different camera angles that pull you in for intimate cutscenes, increase the intensity of confrontations, and pull back to show large sections of Neo-Berlin in all its gloomy glory. These stunning vignettes are supported by an hypnotic original soundtrack that brings the whole world to life.
Encodya is out now on Steam, and you can find out all the finer details about the game on the official website. It’s a sweet story about friendship in a world designed to make people feel disconnected, and it’s the perfect heartwarmer to play right now.