Encodya from Chaosmonger Studio looks like a classic point and click adventure game with a cyberpunk twist, so we couldn’t resist playtesting it. It’s exclusive to the PC platform, and we tested the Steam version (it’s also out on GOG).
We first saw Encodya when we met with creator Nicola Piovesan back in 2019, so it’s nice to see the final version of the game finally emerge, as back then we didn’t have too much to go on except for the game’s promising setting. Based on an animated short by Piovesan entitled Robot Will Protect You, Encodya fleshes out that story to a full six hour story in a classic adventure game format.
The game takes place in Neo Berlin in the year 2062, where you’re a nine year old girl named Tina who lives on the streets after having lost her parents. She’s not alone though, as she shared her life with SAM-53 – her bulky robot friend. Although he’s not quite as big, the relationship evokes memories of titles like The Iron Giant.
Here, the relationship also serves a purpose in the gameplay sense. Where SAM-53 strictly abides by the laws and rule of Neo Berlin, Tina grew up on the streets and will sometimes bend or break the law just to survive. As a result, you’ll be switching between the two regularly to get past certain puzzles that require an action that only Tina or SAM can perform. Tina is small and nimble, whereas SAM has his size and strength – and of course the ability to talk to other robots.
The visuals are absolutely charming and SAM and Tina are endearing protagonists, and the core plot underlines the sense of charm – Tina wants to set out to bring a little color to the bleak cityscape she lives in, as per her late father’s wishes. Because Tina has a go-to attitude and SAM provides comic relief, the pair bring an upbeat tone to otherwise grey backdrop.
Neo Berlin isn’t devoid of life and character though, as you’ll run into plenty of interesting NPC characters. Some can be too one-dimensional in nature, but for every underdeveloped character there’s someone who ties into the cyberpunk atmosphere of the game in an interesting way. Often, this can be connected to current socio-economic trends as well, but a lot of that is left up to the player to interpret.
But while Encodya just exudes charm with its two protagonists and the lovely audiovisual presentation (the music is excellent as well), the actual gameplay falls a bit short of the mark compared to some of the better classic or modern takes on the genre from Lucasarts, Telltale or Daedalic. The narrative could use some more depth and dramatic effect, and most of the puzzles feel shallow rather than well thought out and rewarding.
All in all, that makes Encodya a charming adventure game that longtime fans of the genre will want to check out, but one that’s not likely to leave a lasting impression. With such a unique feel to it and an instant appeal that comes with the characters and setting, that’s a shame.