So I was in a branch of your friendly neighbourhood game retail shop earlier today, parting with an unreasonable amount of money for some Fallout 4 DLC – one day before the price rises to an even more unreasonable amount. As I emerged blinking into the cold street, I got a little warm glow from remembering the much cheaper and really fun experience I had in completing Nova 111.
Available as part of the February Playstation Plus package, Nova 111 can be best described as a turn-based space puzzle game – even though there are just as many real-time elements to it. You play as a quirky little little orange ship, navigating your way by turns through the remnants of an ambitious science experiment gone wrong, in a bid to rescue its stranded scientists.
Each level takes the form of a series of puzzles through which you must progress using a blend of turn-based and real-time action. Every move you take is a step closer to refilling your Science! Bar, with which you can use a variety of power-ups to phase through walls, fire energy blasts at enemies and even to temporarily freeze time.
As you progress through the game, each level throws up new and scarier enemies to test your newfound Science! skills and challenge your puzzling abilities, accompanied by Dr. Science who provides amusing commentaries on all his experiments with time and space.
Getting back to the Fallout 4 debacle of earlier today, it’s of real comfort to me to realise that, for every unreasonable amount of money I’m expected to shell out to sample more of a Triple A game which I’ve already paid for, that there are new and exciting things happening on a much smaller scale, with the likes of Nova 111 showing up on my monthly downloads and providing a really pleasant gaming experience that taxes my mind as much as it tickles my other senses, with neat graphics and some fantastically twinkly synth sound design.
Considering its relatively miniscule stature, Nova 111 comes across very well-polished and, short of the odd steep hike on the difficulty curve, extremely well-designed. I know I bought a Playstation 4 with visions of AAA titles like GTAV and Fallout 4 dancing in my head like visions of sugar plums, but I love that the very same console can bring me these little gems too.