August 25, 2015 4:35 AM | Lena LeRay
I first saw Nova-111 at BitSummit last year. Developer Funktronics Labs made their booth stand out in the semi-dark room with an abundance of yellow. Eyes that were caught became butts in chairs and hands on controllers with a demo of the game while the developers explained that the game was designed to combine real-time and turn-based elements.
"Once upon a spacetime, there existed a team of 111 brilliant scientists, who lived together in a simple turn-based world. They were interested in expediting their scientific research, and thus began developing the Universe's "Greatest Science Experiment" which was theorized to unlock "real-time". All was fine and dandy, that is, until one day the science experiment went horribly wrong, which resulted in a cosmic real-time/turn-based vortex that mashed the two unlikely worlds together..."
In Nova-111, the player controls a spaceship making its way through levels in a grid- and turn-based fashion. Along the way, it encounters various creatures that can destroy it. Each creature has its own behavior patterns that the player can learn, allowing them to make strategic decisions about how to survive encounters.
However, before long, the player encounters things which, though triggered by the player's turn-based movement, have real-time elements. Stalactites, for example, will start to shake if the player or a creature in chase passes underneath, but after a few real-time seconds of shaking, they will fall. There's a creature that latches on to the player's ship and sends an attack down the connection between them which will hurt the player if the creature isn't killed fast enough in real time.
These real-time elements often force the player to move quickly, with less time to think, but they can also serve to let the player use enemies against each other. Those stalactites can fall on an enemy as easily as on the player, too. It adds a bit of excitement to the game and gives it a unique flavor.
I would call Nova-111 a roguelite, though where most roguelites are action games with permadeath and procedurally generated levels, Nova-111 inherits from the deliberate strategy side of the roguelike genre. The levels aren't procedurally generated; they are handcrafted, which allows Funktronics to control the pacing and difficulties of encounters. Instead of a focus on mastery of the systems through learning what everything does so the player can overcome whatever a procedural system throws at them, this game puts a focus on efficiency of motion and quick completion through leaderboards.
Nova-111 comes out today for Windows, Mac, PS4, PS3, and PS Vita, with an August 28th release on Xbox One. A Wii version is planned for later this year but a release date has yet to be announced. The price of the game is $14.99.