Antler Interactive came out with its sequel to its point-and-click puzzle adventure game, Krystopia: A Puzzle Journey, with Krystopia: Nova’s Journey. After looking into the first game that I missed out on, I was curious to see this sci-fi world. While the face of it all was interesting, dissecting through this experience falls short amongst others in its genre.
Nova (Katie Gaskin) has lost her memories and does not recognise where she is at, a seemingly mysterious but familiar world called Krystopia. She must get to the bottom of why she is there and who is behind it, only to discover something bigger than her is involved. It is quite intriguing all the way through, but the storytelling style loses me. Having Gaskin narrate introductions for each of the three chapters (and explain collectibles, but we will get to that later) delivers a tone that pulls me in, but in the actual gameplay, she does not speak except for the occasional “aha” or “hmm” as the rest is filled with blocks of text to speak for her.
While I am disappointed that Gaskin does not get more than what she has delivered, which is quite a solid performance, she cannot save the dialogue and characters. Nova and the others you meet are flat. The writing is quirky and fun, but with the only voice being my voice in my head as I read, it loses all of the personality that the writers were aiming to fill this world.
Three times dialogue choices come up. This mechanic turns to be quite useless outside of the final moments. The first two moments of choice is meaningless, while the last minute of gameplay lets you decide the outcome of the story, which by that point I have lost interest due to the lack of care for these people and aliens.
Getting into the meat of the game is simple, you can click on objects to interact with, drag and pull on things to solve puzzles, and point where you want Nova to go. Puzzles are mostly clever in an elementary way, with hidden clues sneakily placed to figure out the solution. It is inconsistent as some are cheaply made for a challenge. Other brain teasers in the genre put up a much better test to one’s intelligence.
Early on, Nova comes across a little orange creature, which reminds me of a weird-looking dog. The good boy alien helps in some areas but is greatly under-utilised in puzzle solving in creative ways. He can get under tight spaces, which happens two or three times. He can solve puzzles the same way, with no unique challenge coming to work with my little friend.
No option for sensitivity is quite irritating with some puzzles. Sliding an object to the right place feels awkward and too fast. It feels more suited for mobile players rather than PC players like myself.
Each chapter holds a variety of relics, the collectibles that flesh out Krystopia, and the characters who live on the planet. A few here and there give some good information with Nova giving her thoughts on the object. Other times it is childish things like toilet paper because aliens use toilets too. Rather than giving me answers to the weird plant life or animals, I guess it is good to know that the humanoid beings need to wipe too.
The constant wide shot of the camera makes some areas hard to see. Something small can be in the distance that is needed, but the camera doesn’t follow you, it is just stationary. Moving it has no purpose as there is no moment in which it is required to find a solution. Getting close to certain key objects, then it will zoom in, but that is only for interactable things in the world.
The art style is highly stylised, but in many spots, it looks rough, taking away from the artwork. The designs of Krystopia are fascinating, along with a vibrant color palette. Some areas work better than others, with locations, later on, start to show the flaws more than early parts of the game.
The music starts beautiful and simple. It gives that sense of wonder about where Nova is at and what will happen narratively. Later on, the score evolves into something more electronic and fun, but it doesn’t fit the tone or what is happening with the story. While it is well composed, it throws off the vibe of the climax.
Krystopia: Nova’s Journey is an in-and-out adventure, which is precisely what I needed as it offered little substance throughout. It has some heart to it, but the presentation spoils the experience. For puzzle fans and amateurs like myself, this is not something to recommend even during the midst of a pandemic.
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