There have been many clever takes on the Mystery Dungeon formula yet Nova-111 stands out as one unique and enjoyable indie.
That's right; Nova-111 follows classic Mystery Dungeon gameplay where your enemies move whenever you do within grid-based levels. However, it doesn't really have RPG elements and instead relies on clever abilities that make progressing through its stages and dealing with its enemies an entertaining endeavour. Meanwhile, its plot is simple as you must explore alien worlds in the hopes of rescuing stranded scientists after an experiment goes awry. It's not the most epic story but it provides enough motivation for the journey ahead. v1d30chumz 107-21-85-250
Nova-111 is presented with lovely visuals that have soft colour palettes and enough detail so that areas don't become drab yet not too much to make things ambiguous. There is also a surprising amount of attention to detail in its layers via translucent foregrounds, a solid play area, and faint backdrops. Plus, there are a few different environmental themes that you'll explore and each one is visually unique and makes for a nice change. Meanwhile, the dry sense of humour throughout made me smile as I rescued scientists only to read their goofy one-liners. You're also accompanied by a goofball scientist who offers hints and silly insights which adds even more fun. 😄
Back to the gameplay; as I mentioned before, Nova-111 focuses on distinct abilities that allow you to solve puzzle-like situations and deal with enemies whether you decide to fight them or dodge them on your way to find the exit or some treasure. The basic controls have you moving in 4 directions and bumping into obstacles or enemies damages them. Meanwhile, you'll gain abilities that let you do things like smash strong walls and enemy shields, warp a short distance, and explode and damage your surrounding tiles. Considering each ability is either charged by waiting or collecting polygel, you really have to think strategically, especially whenever you're in a sticky situation.
All of this comes together to create an enjoyable formula where emerging unscathed is a substantial feat. However, I wish there were more elements besides the abilities because after playing for hours, the gameplay started being predictable. If there was an equipment system or a couple more RPG elements, that would have went a long way to make things more well-rounded. Also, the levels are rather lengthy and each one contains multiple segments so it's disappointing that you can't re-play the individual segments. My only other complaint is that sometimes, you'll be pushed into an ambush and you may be ill-prepared then have to start the segment over again.
I know what you're thinking: why would you want to re-play segments? Well, Nova-111 features a ton of collectibles such as scientists and health upgrades that are rewarding to find. Not only that; you can achieve grades on each level so even after collecting everything, you can try to get better scores. There's also a New Game+ mode after you complete the 5 hour or so long campaign. 😊
Nova-111 is quite a treat of an indie and I'm happy that it's finally available for Switch. Exploring its alien worlds as you outsmart all sorts of tricky foes and progress past seemingly impossible situations makes for some rewarding Mystery Dungeon-like gameplay.
- + Enjoyable spin on the Mystery Dungeon formula with nifty abilities
- + Pleasant visuals and dry humour
- + Lots of secrets and replay incentives
- - Core gameplay could use more elements aside from the abilities
- - Unexpected ambushes can be a pain
- - I wish stages were split up better