Kyoto-based Funktronic Labs recently announced Nova-111, a sci-fi themed adventure game in which turn-based and real-time combat intertwine. They were showing Nova-111 to the media and public for the first time at BitSummit, and although they didn't win any of the BitSummit Awards, they came in 2nd place for Game Design and tied for 2nd place for the Vermillion Gate Award.

The story wasn't very evident in the demo they had on the floor, but the premise is that some scientists living in a turn-based world wanted to expedite their research and created a Chronova device designed to unlock "real time". Unfortunately, something went horribly wrong, creating a time vortex in which turn-based and real-time coexist. Now the player must take a research vessel which has been modified for search and rescue operations into the vortex to try and rescue the scientists trapped within.

It sounds like they have some things to fix based on player feedback, but the game already shows a great deal of promise. Some elements of the game are entirely turn-based, such as player movement and certain enemies. Other things are entirely based in real time, such as falling spikes or enemies that latch on to the player, doing damage to the player if not destroyed quickly enough. But there are other elements which combine the two. One enemy moves in real time until it catches up with the player or is attacked, at which point it explodes after a few seconds of real time. Air flows on the map immediately sweep away anything that makes a turn-based move into their grasp.

The best part is how all of these things, both turn-based and real-time, interact with one another. Enemies can harm each other, which means the player can manipulate enemies into attacking each other. When an exploding enemy starts to go off, the player has a few seconds to not only get away but to lure other enemies into range so they take damage instead. Spikes can be activated and then dodged so that they fall on other enemies instead. Movement is turn based, giving the player lots of time to think, but fuel is drained in real-time, which keeps their thinking time from being infinite.

Funktronic Labs created Nova-111 because they wanted to combine some of the depth of turn-based games with the urgency of real-time games. The game still needs some tweaking and balancing and we haven't really seen any of the story yet, but so far Nova-111 is already shaping up to be a unique gaming experience. It's completely different from atmospheric game Kyoto that won them a spot at Tokyo Game Show 2013's Sense of Wonder Night.

[Funktronic Labs web site]