LifeisXbox’s Encodya Review | Situated in Neo Berlin 2062, a groggy megalopolis that is run and controlled by corporates, you will embark on an adventure to uncover information that you originally thought was nowhere to be found. Playing as Tina who is a nine-year-old orphan and her robot guardian and protector known as SAM-53, you find yourself searching for answers in regards to a message that has been left behind from your dad that would only be accessible from your 10th birthday. By finding ways around this, you are left with leaving your makeshift shelter on one of the many rooftops to complete the mission your dad left in your hands; a mission that could save the world you know. In Encodya, a point and click title, you will be scavenging high and low, speaking to multiple people and robots, combining items, solving puzzles, and progressing through different sectors in an effort to complete this important task. Having been developed by Chaosmonger Studio and published by Assemble Entertainment, Encodya has a story you are certainly going to want to read and finish to the end.
” Encodya provides a range of emotions, challenges, and mental/physical strength that makes this overall tale shine.”
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox One S | Review code provided by PR/publisher. This review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we liked!
- Interesting story | The story behind Encodya was beautiful. I had happy and sad tears during my playthrough but most importantly, I felt connected to Tina with her tough background and upbringing in such a disrupted and ruined world. Tina is left to fend for herself with only the help of SAM-53 at her side. Imagine living in a world where you don’t know about your family, needing to scavenge for food, and life in an improvised shelter that is falling apart; all at the age of nine. It’s heartbreaking to imagine any child having to fend for themself like that. I don’t want to go into detail with regards to the story as it’s hard not to spoil things but Encodya provides a range of emotions, challenges, and mental/physical strength that makes this overall tale shine.
- Enjoyable audio | The voice acting in Encodya was suitable and matched the personalities linked to each of the characters. I have to point out one bit of dialogue that made me smile and that was when SAM-53 laughed by literally saying “Ha. Ha. Ha.” The use of Tinas’ voice represents her emotions well along with the visual facial expressions. Even NPC voices I was pleasantly surprised by. Music changed between areas and was relaxing and excellently composed to fit the theme of Encodya. It brings balance into the equation when combined with visuals. Overall, the soundtrack suits the setting and does give a calm ambience for players to enjoy alongside the story.
- Hints available | Hints were by far my best friend when it came to getting stuck and this happened pretty consistently. Encodya gives you the option to talk to SAM-53 should you need help at any point. They can be extremely helpful and necessary should you get frustrated and/or confused as I did multiple times. For example, one hint was that I should ask around for something that was basically the games way of telling me I need to talk to people or could have missed someone important. Admittedly by the end of my first playthrough, I dare say SAM-53 was probably tired of talking to me. Also made me feel a little guilty as when you ask for help, he always makes a point to tell you not constantly ask as calculating these stresses out his CPU. On the plus side, should you ask accidentally, you can change your mind and choose the ‘I like challenges’ option.
- Simple controls | The controls in Encoyda were very easy to use and follow. You move around using the analogue sticks, view your inventory with RT, use the map by pressing LT, change characters with LB, and RB to run around while moving. If playing on easy mode, you can also press X to highlight any collectable items you may have missed; and no, this doesn’t work for secrets. They all work as they should; although not common controls for the actions they provide compared to most games. At the start of playing, I may have found them a little different to get my head around but I was using everything perfectly fine in no time at all.
- Switching between characters | Now this is something I really liked about Encodya. There were times when you would interact with something, whether it was an item or person/robot but the interaction would only work if you were in control of the correct character. Yes, you can control either Tina or SAM-53 at any given time. Luckily I believe if this did happen, the game would almost provide a little dialogue that discreetly would tell you if you needed to change. It was more often that Tina would speak to humans and SAM-53 to robots apart from the odd occasion. Also, items had the same way of working sometimes. Something small but I liked the idea behind it.
- Interesting visual display | If I had to describe the overall visual appearance in a few words I would have to go with futuristic with retro elements implemented. With Encodya set in 2062, this is set a couple of decades in the future from where we are now; with robots taking over jobs, flying vehicles, and electric billboards being seen everywhere to name a few elements I noticed. With this comes the art style of Encodya that, to me, shows a hand-drawn/artistic approach to perhaps bring the retro element to light, creating an important element that could affect how we see and depict the world throughout Encodya. I understand the approach that has been taken – the variation and mixture of dull and bright colours, almost a mixture of hope and despair, combined with the setting of Neo Berlin and it’s been applied well. My gripe was that I do think the game could have benefited from clearer visuals to further make use of what has already been put in place. Encodya is still without a doubt a unique and appealing title but do I think improvements could have been made? I would be lying if I said no.
- The need to search everything | If you are the type of gamer like myself who enjoys searching every inch of your environment, whether it’s for loot or to gain more information about the background of your game, I can safely say you will have the time of your life in Encodya. Naturally, with this being a point and click title, you won’t exactly be looting gear or weapons as it’s commonly interpreted as such but it is incredibly important that you don’t leave any stone unturned as many things can be easily missed. Items can be found everywhere, they can be combined to make new items, and you can obtain them from doing tasks for other people or robots. The only issue I found with this was that which I encounter far too often – interactable additions that held very little meaning or importance. I would always rather games added too much lore than not enough but that is a personal preference.
- Minor frame drops | More towards the end of Encodya I did notice minor frame drops when it came to the cutscenes in places; like sections, not the entire cutscene. It was a little upsetting because I thought they had been made to accurately capture the mood/emotion of whatever was happening or being experienced at the time. Plus, these minor issues did break my immersion with the story but I did find it somewhat odd that it happened more in the latter half of the game. It’s far from a major issue but I felt the need to mention this as it did make me feel a little unfortunate to have missed out on small sections of the story.
What we disliked
- Interaction issues | The main mechanic in Encodya is to point and click on your surroundings. Whether it be useful items, humans or robots, or points of interest – It’s what you will spend a good chunk of your time doing. However, I noticed that fairly often I was unable to click on specific things unless I was positioned exactly right. Even when it showed up on the screen my character would be forced to move, thus then allowing the option. It did become somewhat frustrating. There was also the issue of interactable items having a hitbox that was far too small which meant I had to backtrack often and had to start being extremely vigilant of my surroundings, in case I missed the smallest but most important detail to allow me to progress.
- Pretty difficult | The difficulty in Encodya is certainly far from easy. Yes, it’s based around a point and click mechanic which is thought by most to be easy but I got stuck for the first hour of the game because I had no idea what to do. If I was missing something, had to combine items, to speak to someone specific and if you’re anything like me then you understand the feeling of not wanting to use hints in the very beginning as it gives you a very early feeling of being beaten that no one likes to face. Luckily, I did manage to find my way around eventually. All I can say is if you’re someone who doesn’t like using hints in any way or wants something quick and easy to play then you will struggle and have a rough time with Encodya. Others may find happiness in the challenge but I’m certainly not one that enjoyed this precise playstyle.
- Lack of replayability | After looking over the achievements for Encodya, I did notice that there is only a very small amount of replayability. Unfortunately, even that only comes down to one of the achievements requiring you to complete the game in under four hours, which I think is next to impossible on your first playthrough unless you have a photographic memory and make every correct decision; highly unlikely without the use of a walkthrough or guide. There are two for completing the game with five or fewer hints and no hints at all. The only other ones are related to secrets being found. I don’t think the gameplay or story will change in any way so unless you’re a completionist, I can’t see many people playing through more than once.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 4-6 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 6-8 Hours
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!