September 16, 2014 8:00 AM | Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Gnome
When the original J.UL.I.A. was released a few years ago, it was a wonderful sci-fi adventure game that was (slightly) let down by a few graphical glitches and some badly explained puzzles. Happily, with a little help from crowdfunding, plain old J.U.L.I.A. has transformed itself into the all singing, all dancing J.U.L.I.A. Among the Stars.
Among the Stars, while still a game mainly created by only two people, is simply brilliant. First of all it fixed everything that was wrong with the original from the aforementioned puzzles to the way Rachel Manners, the protagonist, looks and went on and added and changed and tweeked and removed stuff, until it turned itself into a vastly expanded, brilliantly designed and excellent looking game with one of the best soundtracks of 2014.
You'll play as the sole survivor of a space expedition gone spectacularly wrong. You are woken up from cryo-sleep by J.U.L.I.A., the spaceship's AI, only to discover you are all alone in a malfunctioning ship light-years away from Earth and apparently stranded in an utterly alien, lively yet endangered solar system.
The game comes with an expertly written science fiction story, that isn't afraid to touch upon important matters and never fails to be atmospheric. What's more, JULIA is one of those very rare offerings you can't simply describe with a screenshot and a genre categorization. You'll have to go on and play it in order to fully understand its gameplay; you know, just like back in the old days, when reading a review and looking at some pics in a magazine simply left you bewildered...
At its core though the game can be described as a point-and-click adventure styled piece of interactive fiction with an interesting graphical GUI and a ton of mini-games and puzzles thrown in. Needless to say, the text adventure-y parts of the game are simply amazing. They are well written, brilliantly supported by the graphics, the cut-scenes and a fantastic map system.
Oh, yes, and the puzzles are really, really good too.
J.U.L.I.A. Among the Stars is currently available for Windows on Steam, with Linux and Mac versions to follow soon. Wise people who prefer their games DRM-free can also buy it direct from CBE Software's store.