Nova-111, released as a cross-buy on the PS4 and just recently available across all consoles as well as PC, is a unique take on a tried-and-true formula. With most games sticking with a single genre, or occasionally matching up two that make sense together, Nova-111 starts with the unprecedented: mixing real-time with turn-based grid combat.
At first, Nova-111 presents itself as a unique turn-based puzzler, where your little ship is searching for the exit to a level, and each step you take allows your enemies to take one as well. You begin feeling smart, realizing that you can route around boulders and other obstacles to stay one step ahead of your enemy. But much like the first time I played a Final Fantasy with the ATB meter, a few steps into the game I was surprised, panicked, and overwhelmed. I came across enemies with real-time abilities. Certain ones lit a fuse when I got too close, and I had to take several turns just to get away from an explosion. Stalactites fell in real-time, injuring my ship when I felt I could just stand still and think my way out. The big panic came the first time a little suctiony alien threw it's tentacle across the screen and a blast started traveling down it, so I had to rush full bore through a maze just to get to it in time, while all my strategy of the other enemies I had been facing just flew out the window.
As the game progresses, you find yourself using these differences to your advantage: lead a turn-based enemy under a falling stalactite, and they can do nothing while the falling rock knocks a chunk off of their health. The game has a line-of-sight mechanic to it, where a "fog of war" covers everything your little ship can't see. Enemies might go behind a rock at the edge of the screen, preventing you from knowing their current location. If a real-time enemy hides from you, a panic sets in until you know where he's headed to.
The titular 111 scientists that were scattered across the area when your ship first crashed are the game's collecibles. Each world gives you an idea of how many there are left to save, though it doesn't break it down world-by-world, so you might end up needlessly searching a completed level from time to time if you're going for 100%. I only had one other complaint, that perhaps was more personal: the Vita edition could have benefitted from some touch-screen intuitiveness, with all the grid-based action. I do suppose, though, that as the real-time action may warrant more than a touchscreen.
With a good amount of chuckle-worthy scienceriffic one-liners, pretty and clean graphics and art, and a gameplay style that adds an injection of real-time action to your turn-based strategy, Nova-111 is a fun little game worth the $14.99 entry fee. True completionists will get more play time out of the title due to the sneaky back rooms that must be found to get out with all 111 scientists scattered across the world. Look for it on PSN, Xbox Live, Nintendo Network, and Steam. If you really like it (and live in the UK) you can even currently order a custom printed vinyl decal set for your PS4.
A review copy was provided by the developers. Final review score: 3.75/5