Point-and-click puzzle games are a mainstay of PC gaming dating back to the 80s. Due to the limited scope, they can be reliably produced by indie game companies, leading to something of a resurgence in the genre. One of the more recent offerings in this vein, made possible by Kickstarter, is ENCODYA, a dystopian tale of an orphaned girl who lives on the street with her guardian robot.
Any good game needs its gimmick, and ENCODYA’s is the character switching between 9-year-old Tina and her protector robot SAM. Tina is often better at people and small places. Some tasks require being stronger, reaching higher, or dealing with high-tech gizmos, and you need to swap to using SAM to complete those.
The setting is light cyberpunk with robots and VR but not much in the way of cybernetics (so basically dancing all around the core element of actual cyberpunk).The local VR system is turning everyone into zombies. Tina learns of a message her missing father left for her, encoded into SAM’s operating system, and embarks on a quest to follow the clues to a task she doesn’t understand.
Gameplay is smooth and undemanding. Timing puzzles are relatively forgiving, making you solve them more so than execute them. The only complaint is that as you move around, sometimes SAM’s big robot chassis can end up clogging the screen and obscuring something you need to click. The voice acting and dialogue is solid, although the villain hams it up to melodrama levels unseen since Burgermeister Meisterburger.
The puzzles aren’t especially hard. Most do have a certain logic to them that you feel like you’re solving. Some games in the genre do seem to take glee is forcing you to try every item in your inventory with every other item plus every interactable piece of the environment until something totally outlandish turns out to be correct. In ENCODYA, you do feel like you’re being rewarded for creative thinking rather than brute force.
Overall, it was a fun, sweet game with a satisfying ratio of effort to reward. Check it out if you’re looking for a palette cleanser after playing something dark and depressing.